Holy Thursday in the Greek Orthodox Church

The liturgy of Holy Thursday in the Greek Orthodox Church is marked by two major events: the Last Supper of Christ with His disciples and the betrayal by Judas Iscariot.

The Last Supper is the ultimate revelation of God’s redeeming love for man, of love as the very essence of salvation. Also, by washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus wants to teach them that they need to be humble, in order to serve their fellow man with love.

While the disciples were enlightened at the washing of their feet before the supper, the betraying Judas was darkened by the disease of avarice. Jesus knew he would be betrayed, but he was to forgive Judas, because the forgiveness of sinners is a major part of the Christian faith.

After Judas had left, Jesus handed the Sacrament of the Eucharist to his disciples.

In the evening, anticipating the Matins of Friday morning, the Holy Passion service is one of the most crucial and longest in the Holy Week. The reading of the Twelve Gospels is conducted. In these readings Christ’s last instructions to his disciples are presented, as well as the prophecy of the drama of the Cross, Christ’s prayer, and his new commandment.

On Holy Thursday Greek households are filled with the smell of the Easter tsoureki, the special sweet bread made to be eaten on Easter Sunday. The kneading of the tsoureki is of great importance. It is usually round with an Easter egg in the middle and, depending on the region, it contains various spices. Smaller tsourekia are also made for children, usually in the shape of animals.

Holy Thursday is the day that Greek housewives dye the Easter eggs. The eggs are mostly dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ. Through the years, easter eggs are also dyed in different colors and have decorations like stamps or drawings for children.