The name “Maundy Thursday” comes from the Latin Dias Mandatum, which is the “day of the new commandment,” the new commandment being that Christians should love one another, just as Christ has loved them.
The ceremonies involved on this day are inspired by the events that occurred during the night Jesus observed the Passover with his disciples. One such ceremony is the washing of feet, which was incorporated around the fourth century, and involved the bishop or cardinal within the church washing the feet of the priests and acolytes. The abbot of a monastery would wash the feet of all the monks. While in Rome, the Pope would wash the feet of selected Cardinals.
The altar and sanctuary are stripped of all ornaments and adornments. The plainness of the cross becomes the focal point of the community. Part of the new tradition of All Saints is to hold a vigil upon the cross, to stay awake and pray with Christ before His sacrifice upon the cross.