The Season of Lent ends with Holy Week, beginning with Palm (or “Passion”) Sunday and continuing with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. (“Passion” is from the Latin passio, meaning “suffering.”) The color for most of Holy Week is red—symbolizing the blood shed by Jesus onthe cross.

Maundy Thursday, however, is an exception to the somber and introspective mood that normally prevails during Holy Week. On Maundy Thursday, Christians gather to remember the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples—an event Christians associate with the first celebration of Holy Communion (or the “Lord’s Supper”). So the color of the day is festal white.

“Maundy” is derived from the Latin word, “mandatum,” meaning “commandment.” The celebrationrecalls not only the Last Supper but Jesus’ last commandment to his disciples: “love one another as I have loved you.”

Good Friday is the observance of the arrest, crucifixion and burial of Jesus. The center of attention is the cross: hanging criminals on a cross was a common method of execution in the Roman Empire. As Christians behold the cross on Good Friday, they remember the arms of the Savior of the world, stretched out on the wood of the cross for the salvation of humanity.