Maundy Thursday, in the Middle Ages, was a day for charitable acts. Some kings made a practice of washing the feet of beggars. Louix IX of France, later St. Louis, washed the feet of lepers. In more ordinary aristocratic and wealthy households, the almoner oversaw the day’s charities. The poor were brought into the house and received a new piece of clothing and a sum of money, sometimes one penny for every year of the lord’s age. They were given a Lenten meal of fish and pottage.
In church, one light was left burning on the altar, but other lights were put out in preparation for the official day of grief, Good Friday.