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 mankind, of love as the very essence of salvation. Also, by the washing of His disciples’ feet, Jesus wants to teach them that they must 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 betrayer Judas was darkened by the sickness 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.
Held on Thursday evening of Holy Week, anticipating the Matins of Friday morning, the Holy Passion service is one of the most crucial, and the longest of the Week. The reading of the Twelve Gospels is conducted, interspersed with hymns and other readings.
In these Gospels, Christ’s last instructions to his disciples are presented, as well as the prophecy of the drama of the Cross, Christ’s prayers, and the issuance of 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.
Tsoureki loaves are usually round, featuring a red-dyed Easter egg in the middle. Depending on the region in which the bread is made, it will contain various spices. Smaller tsourekia are also made for children, usually in the shapes of animals.
Holy Thursday is the day o which Greek people dye their Easter eggs. The eggs are mostly dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ. Through the years, the Easter eggs have also been seen dyed in different colors and have decorations lsuch as stamps or drawings for children.