What does Spain celebrate on Maundy Thursday?

by Lorraine Williamson
Maundy Thursday - the last supper

Today is Jueves Santo or Maundy Thursday. Although this day is less famous than Good Friday or Easter itself, it is one of the most important days during Semana Santa and an official holiday. But what does Jueves Santo actually stand for? 

Jueves Santo is the Thursday immediately before Good Friday in the Christian faith. This Holy Thursday marks the beginning of the agony of Jesus. This day commemorates the last supper of Christ with his twelve apostles where he shared his bread and wine. This sacred meal is also called the Eucharist. The Eucharist, the bequeathing of the body and blood of Jesus, is the most important sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church and the Byzantine Orthodox Church. 

Day with mixed emotions 

On Jueves Santo, not only the holy meal is commemorated by the Christians, but also the agony of Jesus, the betrayal of Judas, and then the fact that Jesus was imprisoned. Precisely for these reasons, Jueves Santo stands not only for thanksgiving to Jesus but also for grief, pain, and even betrayal. 

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Evening Mass with different traditions 

The Three-Day Easter Feast, also known as Easter Triduum, officially begins with the evening mass on Jueves Santo. During the evening mass, the Eucharist is celebrated in the presence of as many believers as possible. This is in commemoration of the Last Supper. Jueves Santo is expressed in different ways within different churches. For example, in the Catholic Church, it is customary to cover all (crucifix) images with a white cloth. White represents good, joy, and holy. 

Public Holidays in Spain during Semana Santa 

Work permitting, many Spaniards make sure they have the entire week of Semana Santa off. Because Jueves Santo is so important in Spain, Maundy Thursday is a public holiday in almost all of Spain, as is Viernes Santo (Good Friday). The only region in Spain that does not participate in this is Catalonia. The Catalan government considers Jueves Santo to be an ordinary working day. However, Viernes Santo is designated as an official day off in Catalonia, just like in the rest of Spain. 

Also read: Fiestas, Ferias, and Celebrations in Spain 2022

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