Maundy Thursday is the day before Good Friday and commemorates the Last Supper attended by Jesus and his twelve disciples. Church services on Maundy Thursday focus on Jesus deciding to wash the disciples’ feet during the meal, since this symbolises humility, equality and servitude. Some churches even perform a re-enactment to bring the message home to the worshippers.
In the UK it is perhaps better known for the ‘Maundy money’ given out by the King or Queen to a group of elderly men and women chosen by their respective local churches. Centuries ago, the monarch would also be involved in the washing of the feet but inevitably a stop was eventually put to this spectacle and items of food and clothing were given instead. This, too, was stopped due to its impracticality and a gift of a purse of silver coins was felt to be the most dignified and simple solution.
The number of recipients is equal to twice the monarch’s age, divided equally between men and women, and the total value of specially minted coins given to each person (in 1p, 2p, 3p and 4p denominations) also matches the sovereign’s age, e.g. 95p in 2021. These coins have rarity value.
(Image: Lawrence OP at Flickr.com / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)