Good Friday is a holy day, observed by the Christians. It is celebrated on the Friday before Easter Sunday. Good Friday is commemorated to venerate Christ�s crucifixion at Cavalry. On this pious day special prayers are offered, and the priest also reads the Gospel accounts from the events related to the Crucifixion.
On this day people recollect the hard truth of Christ�s crucifixion. The name Good Friday may be derived from the phrase �God be with ye�. It is believed that the omniscient would dispel the sin and bring piety to earth.
The date of the first Good Friday would never be known. A possible date is 3rd April AD to 33. The Gospels indicate that He died on the afternoon of 15 Nisan. But, there is no account of the particular year.
On the Good Friday Jesus was arrested, and was handed over to the Roman soldiers. He was severely beaten and a crown of long thorns was thrust upon his head. Later, after prolonged torture, Jesus was asked to carry his own cross to the distant Skull Hill. There he, with two other criminals was crucified mercilessly.
According to the Bible, on Good Friday, there were remarkable changes at every passing hour.
- Jesus was nailed to the cross at the third hour of the day
- Darkness covered the land at the sixth hour of the day
- As the darkness left at the ninth hour of the day, the Lord died
Jesus died on the Preparation Day, which is the day before Sabbath. The Christians believe that Jesus had to sacrifice His life in order to pay for our sins.
Good Friday according To The Roman Catholic Church
To the Roman Catholics, Good Friday stands as the �Fast Day�. On this day, the Roman Catholics only take a single meal or couple of short meals. The archbishops go through a series of readings and meditations. Gospels are often read with a rare musicality to become a beautiful chant. In the traditional Latin liturgy, the priest reads the Gospels facing the Altar. The Cross-is placed at the front, so that the people can pay their respect to it. In some countries like Malta, Italy and Spain, processions are organized with various statues representing the Passion of Christ.
Good Friday in different countries
In Israel, which is Jesus� birthplace, the day is known as the �Big Day�. In Czech Republic, Slovakia, Siberia, Greece, Bulgaria, the day is called �Great Friday�.
In Latin America and Portugal the day is called �Holy Friday�. Moreover people of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland call it a �Long Friday�. Interestingly, the Anglo Saxons too called it the �Long Day�, since they used to observe a long fast on Good Fridays.
Good Friday in the Christian countries
In many Christian countries like Brazil, Chile and Germany, Good Friday is a Federal or public holiday. In United States Good Friday is not a Federal holiday but a state holiday. Banks, business sectors and schools, governed by the Federal government are not allowed to close. In South Africa all the business sectors, private offices and schools are closed. Buying and selling alcohol is strictly prohibited. In many English-speaking countries hot cross burns are eaten.
In Malta and Philippines
In Malta the commemorations reach their height at Good Friday, as the people organize processions and celebrates the passions of Jesus. Celebrations take place in different places around Malta and Gozo. Moreover, in Birgu, Luga, Mosta, Naxxas, and Paola, people follow the same rituals to venerate Christ.
In the Catholic Philippines, the Passion play is called Sinakulo. On this pious day, no church bell is heard and no Mass is organized. The devotees sometimes have themselves nailed to crosses, expressing penance. On this day, nobody goes to work. People keep this faithful disposition intact for a few more days, and also celebrate the �Easter Sunday� which follows.
The contemporary taste of Good Friday
In the contemporary age, Good Friday along with Christmas is celebrated with an insoluble reverence. In countries like India, and UK it is observed as a national holiday. Many Christians fast, in order to honor Christ� sacrifice. In the churches, pray around 3:00 pm, the hour, when Christ died. Many churches observe the Stations of the Cross and engage themselves in Passion plays and Dramatic readings. During the mourning hour, the pictures and statues are covered.
Thus, the customs and rituals of Good Friday are almost the same in different countries, but the fundamental essence remains the same. It is the soft recollections of Christ� sacrificial death to redeem mankind.