Good Friday is one of the oldest Christian holidays, with some sources saying that it has been observed since 100 AD. It was associated with fasting during the early years of its observance, and was then associated with the crucifixion, around the fourth century AD. Good Friday is always observed on the Friday before Easter Sunday. On this day Christians remember the passion, or suffering, and death on the cross of Jesus Christ.
Many Christians will spend this day in fasting, prayer, repentance, and meditation, on the agony and suffering of Christ on the cross. There are many historical theories as to why the day that remembers Jesus’ death on the cross is known as Good Friday. There is one school of thought that Good Friday stems from the words “God’s Friday”, while others interpret “good” in the sense of observed as holy. Many Orthodox Christians also call the day Great Friday. This day has also been known as Black Friday, or Sorrowful Friday, as well as Long Friday.
Because Good Friday is celebrated in memory of Christ’s crucifixion and death, the most important Good Friday symbol is the crucifix, or cross, which represents the way in which Jesus died. Some crosses used in the Good Friday remembrance bear a figure of Christ. Other symbols of Good Friday include: black cloth used to cover the cross, paintings and statues in churches and some homes to signify mourning. In addition, some observers of Good Friday deliberately create a bare appearance in their homes and churches by removing all flowers and shiny objects.
People in many different countries celebrate the anniversary of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and death on the Friday before Easter Sunday. This is an observance that most often involves people fasting and praying. Many church services are held in the afternoon, (usually around noon or midday to 3pm), in order to remember the hours when Jesus hung on the cross. Some churches also observe the day by re-enacting the procession of the cross, as in the ritual of the Stations of the Cross, which depicts the final hours of Jesus’ life. This type of procession is held in many countries such as: India, Italy, the Philippines, and Spain.
There are many other unusual celebrations on Good Friday. In Bermuda it is a tradition to fly handmade kites. This is done to symbolize the cross that Jesus died on, as well as his ascension into heaven. This custom in Bermuda dates back to the 19th century. In Belgium and Mexico, churches are draped in black on Good Friday, in memory of Jesus’ suffering on the cross. The day is regarded as solemn, and a general air of sadness is felt in many towns and villages. In Poland, Christians who are celebrating Good Friday feast on dry bread and roasted potatoes. Egg decorating is also part of the Easter preparations in Poland and many other countries.
Good Friday is celebrated as a major holiday in the Philippines. This is the time when many Filipinos refrain from engaging in worldly activities such as listening to loud music or drinking alcohol. Those who are Catholic refrain from eating meat during this day, and engage in fasting and prayer. In the Philippines government offices, schools and most major establishments, such as shopping malls, are closed on Good Friday. However not all observance is religious as holiday destinations, such as beaches and hotels, are busy with tourists and travelers.
It is interesting to note that Good Friday is not a federal holiday in countries such as the United States, although it is a state holiday in some states, including Hawaii. Some people will have a day off work on Good Friday in the Netherlands, while others work.