01 April 2010

Maundy Thursday

They don't call it Maundy Thursday anymore, sticking with the more palatable Holy Thursday. "Maundy" is a fine old word with not much going for it these days. WordMan™ has a fondness for such things. "Maundy" comes to English via Latin, mandatus being the past participle of mandare, meaning to entrust or to order. Mandatus is also a noun, meaning a command (you can see the obvious root of "mandate"). Thus Christians are mandated to be holy, I reckon. To fulfill the command of John 13:34 ("love one another as I have loved you"). To wash the feet of the poor (John 13:1-17). Interestingly, the Wikipedia entry for Maundy Thursday offers an alternative etymology for "maundy," saying it comes from mendicare (French mendier) meaning to beg. Apparently the English king distributed alms to the poor on that day, filling the "maundsor" baskets of the less fortunate ahead of the Easter feast. Now that's more like it, a fine old controversy for grey-bearded Oxford dons to thrash out with their grad students.


Anonymous said...

SIR says the first thing I thought when the calendar came up on the screen and said "Holy Thursday" was to finish with "Batman". Perfect for April Fools!

Anonymous said...

I go with SIR on this: 'Holy Thursday!' On another subject: I mentioned to Katie O'Neill that a friend was reading 'Ulysses' for the first time and talking/writing about it and she burst into laughter. Apparently, she had the same confused (but dedicated!) reaction to the tome as did many of us who read it when we were much younger. You are a sophisticated reader, Mark; we really are interested in your review. By the way, Katie is genuinely Irish: her father was in the 1916 uprising and her mother received a check from the Republic of Ireland until she died. N.