Written by Sthitee Mohanty, senior writer.
Short and sweet – about Good Friday
- Commemorates the day Jesus Christ was crucified
- For 2023, Good Friday is observed on 7 April. The date changes every year.
- Good Friday precedes Easter – it’s part of the Holy Week
- It is a day of quiet prayer and reflection.
- Many Christians fast and attend evening church services on this day.
Now, in a bit more detail
Are you curious about why today, the 7th of April 2023 is a holiday? Well, that’s because it’s Good Friday!
But, it’s not a day to celebrate – it’s actually a day of mourning. So, what exactly is this occasion?
Read on to know more.
What’s Good Friday?
Good Friday is a day that is observed by the followers of Christianity.
It is a day of mourning that commemorates the day Jesus Christ was crucified on the order of Roman governor Pontius Pilate.
The Christians believe that Jesus had been crucified by the Jews on a Friday. According to the Bible, the Roman government sentenced Jesus Christ to crucifixion (the highest criminal punishment then) due to the demands of the Jews.
There are many days that Christians observe and celebrate around this time – it’s a Holy Week for them (explained a little below)- it includes days like, Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter Sunday), Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday – then finally Easter Sunday.
Each year the date of Good Friday varies a little.
Why was Jesus crucified?
So, let’s bactrack a bit.
There was no Christianity before Jesus – there was Judaism that the Jews followed and others worshipped various Gods and Goddesses. Many Jews lived in the area ruled by the Romans.
Then Jesus came and started to talk about being the son of God who wanted to save humanity from its sins. This upset many people, mostly the Jews, who did not like the fact that Jesus was advocating his relationship with God.
The Jews, thus, found Jesus guilty of blasphemy (speaking against God or sacred things). The Jews then went to the Roman Governor, Pontus Pilate, who is then said to have authorized Jesus Christ’s punishment.
He was sentenced him to death by crucifixion. Christians believe that Jesus was beaten and made to carry a wooden cross to Golgotha or Calvary — the place where he was crucified. Many believe that he was made to wear a crown of thorns. He he was nailed to the cross and left to die.
The Bible says that once he was dead, Jesus was taken down and buried.
Christians believe Jesus died on the cross to save humanity from its sins and restore people’s relationship with God.
What’s “good” about Good Friday?
So, if this is a day that mourns the death of Jesus, then why is is called Good Friday?
Many linguists believe that the word “good” here means holy – in old English the word good also meant holy. Calling it a “good” Friday makes it a day of religious observance – it becomes a day of prayer and spiritual contemplation.
Did you know that Good Friday is also called Black Friday?
What do Christians do on Good Friday?
Most Christians observe this day as a commemoration of Christ’s sacrifice for humanity’s welfare. It’s a day of mourning and reflection. People go to church to attend special services and prayers.
Christians think of Good Friday as a day for quiet reflection. Mass services are held at Church to help them to honor Jesus Christ’s suffering. Some Christians even fast on Good Fridays as a way of mourning.
Also, there are some special practices around the number 7.
People either go to seven different churches on that day or attend a service that recites the seven last words of Jesus Christ along with other parts of scripture.
In India, special church services and evening masses are held. Some people even abstain from eating meat. Some regions organize parades or open-air plays on the Holy Week and Jesus Christ’s last days.
Did you know that there are different denominations (types) of Christianity?
There are Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, etc. Each branch’s name and practice varies with region and country.
Many people claim that the Eastern Orthodox denomination is the oldest branch of Christianity.
What is the Holy Week?
Good Friday is also part of the Holy Week of Christianity.
The week before Easter is called the Holy Week. The days of this week are as follows: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.
These five days are a recounting of the last days of Jesus Christ’s life. Good Friday falls somewhere between Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday.
Jesus Christ was betrayed by Judas on Maundy Thursday. He was crucified on Good Friday. He was buried on Holy Saturday and resurrected (rose up again from the dead) on Easter Sunday.
History of Good Friday commemorations
Good Friday has long been a part of the Christian religion. The earliest record of this festival dates back to the 4th century – an account has been found in the diary of a female pilgrim to Jerusalem called Egeria
The increasing spread of Christianity ensured its commemoration in more places like Antioch, Rome, etc. It became customary for Christians to head on a pilgrimage in the Holy Week.
In the Middle Ages (476-1400 AD approx), a symbolic form of this pilgrimage came about, known as Stations, or Way, of the Cross. Dramatic plays on the final days of Jesus Christ’s life called passion plays (deriving the name from the Passion of Christ) also started.
What is the Passion of Christ?
The Passion of Christ is a collection of stories centered around Jesus Christ’s arrest, sentencing, crucifixion, and execution.
These stories are commemorated every year in Holy Week.
Many countries around the world celebrate Good Friday. This festival remains closely related to the Christian traditions it arises from. Festivals like Easter have become more secular in their celebration due to customs like Easter eggs and Easter gift baskets. Good Friday still requires one to go to Church and think of God deeply.
Let us know how you celebrate Good Friday!
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