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In Christianity, Holy Wednesday (also called Spy Wednesday, and in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, Holy and Great Wednesday) is the Wednesday of the Holy Week, the week before Easter. It is followed by Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday).
In Western Christianity, the Wednesday before Easter is sometimes known as "Spy Wednesday", indicating that it is the day that Judas Iscariot first conspired with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for thirty silver coins.
This event is described in the three Synoptic Gospels: , , .
The Sanhedrin was gathered together and it decided to kill Jesus, even before Pesach if possible. In the meantime, Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper. Here he was anointed by Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, with very expensive ointment of spikenard. Some of the disciples were indignant about this; the oil could have been sold to support the poor. Judas went to the Sanhedrin and offered them his support in exchange for money. From this moment on Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.
Although it is frequently celebrated on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, the Tenebrae is a liturgy that is often celebrated on this day. The word tenebrae comes from the Latin meaning darkness. In this service, all of the candles on the altar table are gradually extinguished until the sanctuary is in complete darkness. At the moment of darkness, a loud clash occurs symbolizing the death of Jesus.. The 'strepitus', as it is known more probably symbolizes the earthquake that followed Jesus' death: "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent" Matthew 27:51(AV).
- Eastern Orthodox Church: on this day, members receive Holy Unction after participating in the Divine Liturgy.
- Poland: children traditionally hurled an effigy of Judas from the church steeple. It was then dragged through the village, pounded with sticks and stones and what was left of it was drowned in a nearby pond or river.
- Czech Republic: the day is traditionally called Ugly Wednesday, Soot-Sweeping Wednesday or Black Wednesday, because chimneys used to be swept on this day, to be clean for Easter.
- Malta: this day is known as L-Erbgħa tat-Tnieber (Drums' Wednesday), in the past children went to the parish church and drummed on the chairs to make the sound of thunderstorms.
- ↑ The Holiday Spot: Journey through the Holy Week
- ↑ A Glossary of Words Used in the Anglican Church: Spy Wednesday
- ↑ Catholic Online: Spy Wednesday conversion to Holy Wednesday
- ↑ TIME: Spy Wednesday
- ↑ My Catholic: One Bread, One Body - Reflection for April 4, 2007 - Spy Wednesday
- ↑ Ken Collins: What is a Tenebrae Service?
- ↑ The United Methodist Church: What is a Tenebrae service?
- ↑ Great Lent, Holy Week, and Pascha: The Sacrament of Holy Unction: Holy Wednesday afternoon and Evening
- ↑ Catholic Culture: Liturgical Year - Wednesday of Holy Week
- ↑ By Sun and Candlelight: Spy Wednesday Supper