The Thursday before Easter (March 24 this year) goes by several names. It’s known in England as Maundy Thursday, after the start of the reading for that day: “Mandatum novum do vobis (I give you a new commandment).” These are the words Jesus said to his disciples at the Last Supper (which was a Passover feast) while he was washing their feet.
In Trapani, Italy, people visit churches to see the lavureddi, sepulchres of green. Tiered altars are set up and covered with linen. Upon these are placed pots of wheat and lentils, grown in darkness so they develop straw-colored sprouts. These are said to represent new life growing in the darkness and to foreshadow Christ’s resurrection from the tomb.
German Catholics call this Green Thursday because they eat spring greens for the first time. In Saxony, they say if you don’t eat greens today you’ll become an ass. This would be a good day to make a salad of out the first greens of spring: wild herbs, the pale leaves of dandelions, watercress, wild thyme, and others.
Waverly Fitzgerald is a writer, teacher, and calendar priestess who has studied the lore of holidays and the secrets of time for decades. She shares her research and her thoughts on her Living in Season website and in her book, Slow Time. She is currently working on a series of essays about looking for nature in the city and blogs for the Seattle PI as the “Urban Naturalist.”