What is Good Friday? Why is it called Good Friday?

Good Friday is a holy day celebrated by the Christians all over the world to pay tribute to Jesus Christ getting crucified to pay for the sins of man. This day is celebrated on a Friday two days before Easter. It is a day of prayer and mourning to remember Christ’s great sacrifice. The ‘Good’ in Good Friday means Holy according to old English. Good Friday is an official holiday in many countries, but in the US it is not an official holiday though many schools, colleges and businesses remain shut. It is a state holiday in few states such as Hawaii, Florida and Connecticut. Good Friday in 2018 was observed on 30 March.

On this day, the soldiers arrested Jesus with the betrayal by Judas, while Jesus prayed at the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was sentenced to be crucified for profanity. He carried his cross to Golgotha where he was nailed to it and breathed his last breath freeing the world of its sins.

Christians go to church and attend religious masses asking for forgiveness of their sins and thanking Jesus for giving his life for them. People mostly spend the day praying and fasting.

When is Good Friday?

The following are the dates that Good Friday has fallen on in the previous years and will fall in the coming years:

YearGood Friday
2017April 14, Friday
2018March 30, Friday
2019April 19, Friday
2020April 10, Friday

Good Friday is a national holiday in Canada, Australia, Germany and the UK.

History of Good Friday

The story of The crucifixion

According to the Bible, during the last supper with his disciples, Jesus predicts that one of them will betray him and that his other disciple Peter would disregard him before the cock crowed.

As Jesus sees the time nearing, he takes two of his disciples and goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Judas, a disciple, betrays Jesus for 30 silver coins as he kisses Jesus on the cheek giving the soldiers a sign that he is the one to be arrested.

Jesus is taken away and presented in front of Pilate, high priests and a crowd of angry people. Pilate declares Jesus innocent not wanting Jesus’s blood on his hands but as the crowds start yelling ‘Crucify Him’, Pilate washes away his hands and gives the people what they want.

Jesus was crowned with thorns and forced to carry his cross up to Golgotha. Peter follows Jesus, and as someone spots him and says that he was with Jesus, he denies just then the cock crows, and Peter remembers what Jesus had said.

Jesus was nailed to the cross and put on a show for everyone to see the punishment for Blasphemy. As Jesus breathed his last breath he said ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do’. Dark clouds covered the sky and an earthquake shook the Earth and cracked the temple.

Later, one of the disciples requested Pilate to give him the body of Jesus and a disciple named Nicodemus wrapped Jesus’s body in cloth and spices and placed him in a tomb from which he rose on the third day known as ‘Easter’.

Symbols of Good Friday

Black Cloth

People use black cloth as both items of clothing as well as to cover the painting of Jesus, the Cross and statues in the churches.

The Crucifix or the Cross

This is the most important symbol of Good Friday. It portrays the sacrifice of Christ and how he saved the world by dying painfully on the cross.

No flowers or decorations

Many people symbolise sadness and mourning by keeping their homes bare by removing all of the flowers and shiny things from the house.

Traditions of Good Friday

  1. A famous tradition is to serve Hot Cross Buns. These sweet buns have a cross-shaped icing on them and contain raisins
  2. The Churches organise long masses for people to pray and atone for their sins
  3. People usually wear black symbolising mourning
  4. In Spain, people repent of their sins and take to the streets in long robes carrying wood shaped in the form of a cross
  5. In Greece and some South American countries, people carry statues into churches like a funeral

Facts related to Good Friday

  1. Hot Cross buns are believed to bring Good Luck
  2. Germany has banned dancing on Good Friday
  3. In Bermuda, people fly kites on Good Friday
  4. Between 6 am to noon, Television and other ads are banned
  5. Every Good Friday all the churches across the world ring the bell 33 times in honour of Jesus’s years spent on Earth
  6. The very first Good Friday was celebrated on 3rd April