When is Good Friday?
Many countries observe Good Friday as a national holiday on the Friday before Easter. The day commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.
Some countries observe the Orthodox calendar in which Good Friday may occur on a different date.
What is Good Friday?
The most important events in Christianity are the death and later resurrection of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the Son of God, and whose life and teachings are the foundation of Christianity.
After the last supper, Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, put on trial, sentenced to death. He was then tied and nailed by the wrists and feet to a large wooden cross and left to die. Therefore the cross is used as a symbol of the Christian faith.
Good Friday is a day of mourning. During special Good Friday services Christians meditate on Jesus’s suffering and death on the cross, and what this means for their faith.
Why is it called ‘Good Friday’?
At first glance, it seems a strange name for a day that marked such a terrible event as a crucifixion, but when we look at the origin of the name it becomes clearer… or it would if there was one origin that people could agree on. As it stands, you can take your pick from the following:
- Some say it comes from the use of “Good” as an adjective applied to the day, which is an Old English synonym for “holy.”
- Others believe it stems from a corruption of the word “God,” in much the same way that “Goodbye” comes from the phrase “God be with ye.” So the name may be derived from ‘God’s Friday’.
- Undoubtedly most Christians perceive the day as “good” because the message of Easter is of Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the devil. Indeed, the New Testament is also known as the Gospel, which is Greek for ‘Good News’.
Also, it also worth noting that this confusion over the name is mainly confined to Western European and North American Christians. Eastern Orthodox Christians call it “Great and Holy Friday. Around the rest of the world, it’s known as Holy Friday in most Latin nations, ‘Great Friday’ by the Slavic peoples, “Friday of Mourning” in Germany and “Long Friday” in Norway.
Good Friday Traditions
Many Church services are held in the afternoon, usually between noon to 3pm, to remember the hours when Jesus was crucified on the cross.
Some churches observe the day by re-enacting the process of the cross in the rituals of stations of the cross, which depicts the final hours of Jesus’ life. Other churches may participate in Veneration of the Cross, a short ceremony in which Christians kneel before the cross and affirm their faith.
In Jerusalem, Christians follow in Jesus’ footsteps and walk Via Dolorosa, the traditional path that led to the site of the crucifixion. Many who participate try to ritually bear the same weight Jesus did by carrying crosses on their backs.
Though it’s not a public holiday in the Vatican or Italy, the Pope will say a mass at the Vatican before leads an annual public prayer of the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum in Rome. A procession is then made to the Palatine Hill, accompanied by a huge cross covered in burning torches.