Thursday, April 5, 2012

Holy Thursday – Wielki Czwartek

by Staś Kmieć
Also known as Święta Kapłanów (the feast of the priests), this day is known for when the sacrament of the priesthood was instituted at the Last Supper. There is the consecration of oils; all bells are silenced following “Gloria” and replaced by kołatki (wooden hammer or rotating rattle boxes) as a sign of mourning, but also representing the betrayal of Judas; the organ is not played; and at the end of the Mass the altar is stripped bare. Dark matins cover religious artifacts and statues, and all candles are extinguished. Traditionally, the organ is silent from Holy Thursday until the Easter Vigil, as are all bells or other instruments; the only music during this period being unaccompanied chant.
Priests would hit the altar top as a sign of the chaos that followed when the Roman soldiers captured Christ leaving the disciples terrified. This high rite was an excuse for young boys prone to mischief, and who could hardly endure the Lenten seriousness to run through the streets making noise with their own kołatki and by banging sticks on fences and gates.
A straw or stuffed effigy of Judas with thirty pieces of broken glass in his pocket (symbolizing the thirty pieces of silver) was hung, or thrown from the church tower where onlookers would catch the figure and wander through the streets shouting "Judasz!” The effigy is beaten until completely destroyed; the remains are burned or thrown into a pond or river.