For followers of the Christian faith, Holy Week is one of the most important weeks of the entire year. Each day of the Holy Week represents a specific commemoration of the memory and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. During that week, there are multiple rules and common practices that believers are expected to follow. Let’s continue to the topic of can I eat meat on Holy Thursday!
The entire Holy Week is used as a way to celebrate and remember the death, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. On Holy Thursday, Christians remember the Last Supper, during which Jesus established the sacrament before being arrested and hung on the cross.
Something more to explore here!
During the Holy Week, many Christians choose to fast on certain days. Others attempt to fast for a 40-day period. So, the question is, what days do Christians fast during the Holy Week? Are there certain foods I should avoid? People who are unfamiliar with the specific practices during the Holy Week might be wondering, can I eat meat on Holy Thursday?
What Are the Most Common Practices During the Holy Week?
During the Holy Week, there are only two days when meat should not be eaten: Good Friday and Ash Wednesday. Therefore, on Holy Thursday you CAN eat meat. It’s important to note that some believers are stricter than others. Some individuals choose to refrain from eating meat starting on Holy Thursday through Saturday night after the Easter vigil.
Holy Thursday is also referred to as Maundy Thursday. The word “maundy” is Latin and means “command.” During the Last Supper; the bible claims that Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34. Because of this command, Holy Thursday has also been called Maundy Thursday.
During the Holy Week, many people choose to fast in some form or another. Although the rules vary from church to church, the idea is the same. People choose to give up something that they crave or feel dependent on as a sign of respect for the sacrifice made by Christ. However, some Catholic churches take fasting very seriously; and they believe if rules are purposely broken it is considered a “mortal sin.”
Although fasting or temporarily giving up prized possessions is never specifically stated in the bible; many Catholic churches claim that everyone must repent and pay a penance in order to make up for their inevitable sinning.
How is Holy Thursday Celebrated?
On Holy Thursday, there is usually a special mass that is held in Catholic churches. Every priest that is available will attend the mass in solemn observance. Some churches will choose to have the bishop wash the feet of twelve priests as a representation of Jesus Christ washing the feet of his Apostles. In some countries, priests choose to wash the feet of anyone who attends church on Holy Thursday. Additionally, some women choose to wear all black as a sign of mourning. In the UK, the Queen follows a tradition dating back to Medieval times where she will hand out special coins that are called Maundy Money.
Traditionally, on Holy Thursday some individuals choose to eat charoset, beans, and bread that is unleavened. During the Last Supper, Jesus and his Apostles dined on roasted lamb and unleavened bread.
What Should Be Avoided During Lent?
During lent, any Catholic over the age of 14 should refrain from eating beef, pork, chicken, lamb, ham, deer, and most other meats on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during lent, including Good Friday. Those who have health issues are exempt from the fasting tradition.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to completely fast and give up all foods. During Lent, you are allowed to eat fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, grains, and even fish!
Interestingly enough, fasting doesn’t have to have the traditional meaning of “eating zero food.” Some Catholic popes have given the OK to their followers to eat two smaller meals; one main meal, and one snack on days they are “fasting.”
If you decide to fast on certain days during lent, there are also exceptions to what beverages are acceptable. For example, some Catholics believe you are allowed to drink light beverages such as coffee. It is recommended to stay away from heavier drinks such as smoothies and milkshakes.
- Many Catholic churches allow their followers to eat fish and cold-blooded animals during lent, including frogs, turtles, and clams.
- Some Churches permit their followers to drink certain liquids like fruit juice and milk during their fasting. However, the church leaders may require you to perform acts of charity and service to the community in order to compensate for the relaxation in rules.
- Other churches “strongly urge” their followers to fast on all weekdays during Lent, although it is not officially required.
- The earliest origin of the celebration of the Holy Week can be traced back to the later part of the 3rd and 4th century. During that time, the Apostolic Constitution began abstaining from eating meat and completely fasted on Friday and Saturday.
- Although many traditional Catholic followers are against tattoos; the Pope officially stated his support for tattoos, claiming that they can help build community and could symbolize the faith.
Now that you know that you can eat meat on Holy Thursday; you no longer have to worry about breaking any rules or disrespecting the church. The entirety of the Holy Week is a peaceful celebration that holds an extremely interesting history and tradition.
How does your church celebrate Holy Week? Does your church ask you to abstain from eating on Holy Thursday?
Specific rules and regulations for the Holy Week vary from church to church. If you are a follower of the faith and are wondering which rules apply to you and which don’t; I always recommend checking with your church. Usually, each church has a specific ruleset that they follow and are more than happy to share their expectations with you! If you aren’t a member of a church; do your own research and then make an educated decision that feels right for you. You can never go wrong by having good intentions and following your heart.