Maundy Thursday is also known as Holy Thursday, and falls on the Thursday before Good Friday. Here in the UK, Maundy Thursday features the Monarch/Queen offering Maundy money to selected senior citizens-one man and one woman for each year of the Monarch’s age. The Monarch will then present each man and woman with a red and white purse during the service. The red purse traditionally contains an allowance for clothing and provisions and the white purse holds Maundy coins to match the monarch’s age.
It was a tradition for the monarch in England to wash the feet of the poor (which the Yeoman of the Laundry pre-washed) and kiss them on Maundy Thursday. Gross. This custom took place in England until 1689. Also, it can be traced back as far as when kings in France performed this act as early as the 11th century. The first English king to do perform the feet-washing ritual was John after his excommunication. The number of paupers was 13 until Edward III, who changed it to the number of years he reigned.The monarchs showed little enthusiasm for washing feet after the reign of James II but giving gifts of food and money remained. (It seemed a more sanitary option) One silver penny would be given to one poor man and one poor woman for each year of the sovereign’s age. Food and clothing were also handed out to the poor. It is, to this day, customary for England’s monarch to distribute Maundy money on Maundy Thursday.