Good Friday (from the senses pious, holy of the word "good"), is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover. It is also known as Black Friday, Holy Friday, Great Friday, or Easter Friday, though the latter normally refers to the Friday in Easter week.
Based on the details of the Canonical gospels, the Crucifixion of Jesus was most likely to have been on a Friday (). The estimated year of Good Friday is AD 33, by two different groups, and originally as AD 34 by Isaac Newton via the differences between the Biblical and Julian calendars and the crescent of the moon. A third method, using a completely different astronomical approach based on a lunar Crucifixion darkness and eclipse model (consistent with Apostle Peter's reference to a "moon of blood" in Acts 2:20), points to Friday, 3 April AD 33.
The Judas Kiss by Gustave Dor , 1866 According to the accounts in the Gospels, the Temple Guards, guided by Jesus' disciple Judas Iscariot, arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas received money (30 pieces of silver) () for betraying Jesus and told the guards that whomever he kisses is the one they are to arrest. Following his arrest, Jesus is brought to the house of Annas, who is the father-in-law of the high priest, Caiaphas. There he is interrogated with little result and sent bound to Caiaphas the high priest where the Sanhedrin had assembled ().
Conflicting testimony against Jesus is brought forth by many witnesses, to which Jesus answers nothing. Finally the high priest adjures Jesus to respond under solemn oath, saying "I adjure you, by the Living God, to tell us, are you the Anointed One, the Son of God?" Jesus testifies in the affirmative, "You have said it, and in time you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty, coming on the clouds of Heaven." The high priest condemns Jesus for blasphemy, and the Sanhedrin concurs with a sentence of death (). Peter, waiting in the courtyard, also denies Jesus three times to bystanders while the interrogations were proceeding just as Jesus had predicted.
Indian Roman Catholics]], depicting the Way of the Cross In the morning, the whole assembly brings Jesus to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate under charges of subverting the nation, opposing taxes to Caesar, and making himself a king (). Pilate authorizes the Jewish leaders to judge Jesus according to their own law and execute sentencing; however, the Jewish leaders reply that they are not allowed by the Romans to carry out a sentence of death ().
Pilate questions Jesus and tells the assembly that there is no basis for sentencing. Upon learning that Jesus is from Galilee, Pilate refers the case to the ruler of Galilee, King Herod, who was in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Herod questions Jesus but receives no answer; Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate tells the assembly that neither he nor Herod have found guilt in Jesus; Pilate resolves to have Jesus whipped and released (). Under the guidance of the chief priests, the crowd asks for Barabbas, who had been imprisoned for committing murder during an insurrection. Pilate asks what they would have him do with Jesus, and they demand, "Crucify him" (). Pilate's wife had seen Jesus in a dream earlier that day, and she forewarns Pilate to "have nothing to do with this righteous man" (). Pilate has Jesus flogged and then brings him out to the crowd to release him. The chief priests inform Pilate of a new charge, demanding Jesus be sentenced to death "because he claimed to be God's son." This possibility filled Pilate with fear, and he brought Jesus back inside the palace and demanded to know from where he came ().
Antonio Ciseri's depiction of Ecce Homo with Jesus and Pontius Pilate, 19th century Coming before the crowd one last time, Pilate declares Jesus innocent and washed his own hands in water to show he has no part in this condemnation. Nevertheless, Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified in order to forestall a riot () and ultimately to keep his job. The sentence written is "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." Jesus carries his cross to the site of execution (assisted by Simon of Cyrene), called the place of the Skull, or "Golgotha" in Hebrew and in Latin "Calvary". There he is crucified along with two criminals ().
Jesus agonizes on the cross for six hours. During his last 3 hours on the cross, from noon to 3 p.m., darkness falls over the whole land. With a loud cry, Jesus gives up his spirit. There is an earthquake, tombs break open, and the curtain in the Temple is torn from top to bottom. The centurion on guard at the site of crucifixion declares, "Truly this was God's Son!" ()
Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin and secret follower of Jesus, who had not consented to his condemnation, goes to Pilate to request the body of Jesus (). Another secret follower of Jesus and member of the Sanhedrin named Nicodemus brought about a hundred pound weight mixture of spices and helped wrap the body of Christ (). Pilate asks confirmation from the centurion whether Jesus is dead (). A soldier pierced the side of Jesus with a lance causing blood and water to flow out (), and the centurion informs Pilate that Jesus is dead ().
Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus' body, wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and placed it in his own new tomb that had been carved in the rock () in a garden near the site of crucifixion. Nicodemus () also brought 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes, and placed them in the linen with the body, in keeping with Jewish burial customs (). They rolled a large rock over the entrance of the tomb (). Then they returned home and rested, because Shabbat had begun at sunset (). On the third day, Sunday, which is now known as Easter Sunday (or Pascha), Jesus rose from the dead.
In the Roman Catholic Church
Day of Fasting
Crucifix prepared for veneration
The Catholic Church treats Good Friday as a fast day, which in the Latin Rite of the Church is understood as having only one full meal (but smaller than a regular meal) and two collations (a smaller repast, two of which together do not equal one full meal) and on which the faithful abstain from eating meat. In countries where Good Friday is not a day of rest from work, the afternoon liturgical service is usually put off until a few hours after the recommended time of 3 p.m.
Services on the day
The Latin Rite ordinarily has no celebration of Mass between the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday evening and the Easter Vigil unless a special exemption is granted for rare solemn or grave occasions by the Vatican or the local bishop. The only sacraments celebrated during this time are Baptism (for those in danger of death), Penance, and Anointing of the Sick. While there is no celebration of the Eucharist, it is distributed to the faithful only in the Service of the Passion of the Lord, but can also be taken at any hour to the sick who are unable to attend this service. During this period crosses, candlesticks, and altar cloths are removed from the altar which remains completely bare. It is also customary to empty the holy water fonts in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil. Traditionally, no bells are rung on Good Friday or Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil.
The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord takes place in the afternoon, ideally at three o'clock, but for pastoral reasons a later hour may be chosen. The vestments used are red (more commonly) or black (more traditionally). Before 1970, vestments were black except for the Communion part of the rite when violet was used. Before 1955 black was used throughout. If a bishop or abbot celebrates, he wears a plain mitre (mitra simplex).
Communion from the Blessed Sacrament on Good Friday (Our Lady of Lourdes, Philadelphia)
The liturgy consists of three parts: the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross, and Holy Communion.
- The Liturgy of the Word, consists of the clergy and assisting ministers entering in complete silence, without any singing. They then silently make a full prostration, "[signifying] both the abasement of 'earthly man,' and also the grief and sorrow of the Church." Then follows the Collect prayer, and the reading or chanting of , , , and the Passion account from the Gospel of John, traditionally divided between three deacons, yet often divided between the celebrant and more than one singer or reader. This part of the liturgy concludes with the orationes sollemnes, a series of prayers for the Church, the Pope, the clergy and laity of the Church, those preparing for baptism, the unity of Christians, the Jewish people, those who do not believe in Christ, those who do not believe in God, those in public office, those in special need. After each prayer intention, the deacon calls the faithful to kneel for a short period of private prayer; the celebrant then sums up the prayer intention with a Collect-style prayer.
- The Veneration of the Cross, has a crucifix, not necessarily the one that is normally on or near the altar at other times, solemnly displayed to the congregation and then venerated by them, individually if possible and usually by kissing the wood of the cross, while hymns and the Improperia ("Reproaches") with the Trisagion hymn are chanted.
Holy Communion is done according to a rite based on that of the final part of Mass, beginning with the Our Father, but omitting the ceremony of "Breaking of the Bread" and its related chant, the "Agnus Dei". The Eucharist, consecrated at the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday is distributed at this service. Before the reform of Pope Pius XII, only the priest received Communion in the framework of what was called the "Mass of the Presanctified", which included the usual Offertory prayers, with the placing of wine in the chalice, but which omitted the Canon of the Mass. The priest and people then depart in silence, and the altar cloth is removed, leaving the altar bare except for the cross and two or four candlesticks.
Stations of the Cross
The Way of the Cross, celebrated at the Colosseum in Rome on Good Friday Rome: canopy erected at the "Temple of Venus and Rome" during the "Way of the Cross" ceremony
In addition to the prescribed liturgical service, the Stations of the Cross are often prayed either in the church or outside, and a prayer service may be held from midday to 3.00 p.m., known as the Three Hours' Agony. In countries such as Malta, Italy, Philippines, Puerto Rico and Spain, processions with statues representing the Passion of Christ are held.
In Rome, since the papacy of His Holiness John Paul II, the heights of the Temple of Venus and Roma and their position opposite the main entrance to the Colosseum have been used to good effect as a public address platform. This may be seen in the photograph below where a red canopy has been erected to shelter the Pope as well as an illuminated cross, on the occasion of the Way of the Cross ceremony. The Pope, either personally or through a representative, leads the faithful through meditations on the stations of the cross while a cross is carried from there to the Colosseum.
In Polish churches, a tableau of Christ's Tomb is unveiled in the sanctuary. Many of the faithful spend long hours into the night grieving at the Tomb, where it is customary to kiss the wounds on the Lord's body. A life-size figure of Christ lying in his tomb is widely visited by the faithful, especially on Holy Saturday. The tableaux may include flowers, candles, figures of angels standing watch, and the three crosses atop Mt Calvary, and much more. Each parish strives to come up with the most artistically and religiously evocative arrangement in which the Blessed Sacrament, draped in a filmy veil, is prominently displayed.
Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ
El Greco's Jesus Carrying the Cross, 1580 The Roman Catholic tradition includes specific prayers and devotions as acts of reparation for the sufferings and insults that Jesus suffered during his Passion on Good Friday. These Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ do not involve a petition for a living or deceased beneficiary, but aim to repair the sins against Jesus. Some such prayers are provided in the Raccolta Catholic prayer book (approved by a Decree of 1854, and published by the Holy See in 1898) which also includes prayers as Acts of Reparation to the Virgin Mary.
In his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor on reparations, Pope Pius XI called Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ a duty for Catholics and referred to them as "some sort of compensation to be rendered for the injury" with respect to the sufferings of Jesus.
Pope John Paul II referred to Acts of Reparation as the "unceasing effort to stand beside the endless crosses on which the Son of God continues to be crucified".
The Holy Week commemorations reach their peak on Good Friday as the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the passion of Jesus. Solemn celebrations take place in all churches together with processions in different villages around Malta and Gozo. During the celebration, the narrative of the passion is read in some localities. The Adoration of the Cross follows. Good Friday processions take place in Birgu, Bormla, G axaq, Luqa, Mosta, Naxxar, Paola, Qormi, Rabat, Senglea, Valletta, ebbu (Citt Rohan) and ejtun. Processions in Gozo will be in Nadur, Victoria (St. George and Cathedral), Xag ra and ebbu , Gozo.
In predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, the day is commemorated with street processions, the Way of the Cross, the chanting of the Pasyon, and the staging of the Senakulo, a Passion play. Church bells are not rung and Masses are not celebrated. They engage in self-flagellation and sometimes even have themselves crucified as expressions of penance despite health issues and strong disapproval from the Church.
After three o'clock in the afternoon of Good Friday (the time at which Jesus is traditionally believed to have died), the faithful venerates the cross and followed by the procession of the Passion and Burial of Jesus. In the town of Lucban, the procession starts immediately at three o'clock. From the nearby towns from the Capital, the processions start five o clock.
In Cebu and other Visayan Islands, people usually eat binignit and biko as a form of fasting.
In Eastern Christianity
Icon of the Crucifixion, 16th century, by Theophanes the Cretan (Stavronikita Monastery, Mount Athos)
Byzantine Christians (Eastern Christians who follow the Rite of Constantinople: Orthodox Christians and Greek-Catholics) call this day "Holy and Great Friday", or simply "Great Friday".
Because the sacrifice of Jesus through his crucifixion is commemorated on this day, the Divine Liturgy (the sacrifice of bread and wine) is never celebrated on Great Friday, except when this day coincides with the Great Feast of the Annunciation, which falls on the fixed date of March 25 (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, March 25 currently falls on April 7 of the modern Gregorian Calendar). Also on Great Friday, the clergy no longer wear the purple or red that is customary throughout Great Lent, but instead don black vestments. There is no "stripping of the altar" on Holy and Great Thursday as in the West; instead, all of the church hangings are changed to black, and will remain so until the Divine Liturgy on Great Saturday.
The faithful revisit the events of the day through public reading of specific Psalms and the Gospels, and singing hymns about Christ's death. Rich visual imagery and symbolism as well as stirring hymnody are remarkable elements of these observances. In the Orthodox understanding, the events of Holy Week are not simply an annual commemoration of past events, but the faithful actually participate in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Each hour of this day is the new suffering and the new effort of the expiatory suffering of the Savior. And the echo of this suffering is already heard in every word of our worship service - unique and incomparable both in the power of tenderness and feeling and in the depth of the boundless compassion for the suffering of the Savior. The Holy Church opens before the eyes of believers a full picture of the redeeming suffering of the Lord beginning with the bloody sweat in the Garden of Gethsemane up to the crucifixion on Golgotha. Taking us back through the past centuries in thought, the Holy Church brings us to the foot of the cross of Christ erected on Golgotha, and makes us present among the quivering spectators of all the torture of the Savior.
Holy and Great Friday is observed as a strict fast, and adult Byzantine Christians are expected to abstain from all food and drink the entire day to the extent that their health permits. "On this Holy day neither a meal is offered nor do we eat on this day of the crucifixion. If someone is unable or has become very old [or is] unable to fast, he may be given bread and water after sunset. In this way we come to the holy commandment of the Holy Apostles not to eat on Great Friday."
Matins of Holy and Great Friday
The Byzantine Christian observance of Holy and Great Friday, which is formally known as The Order of Holy and Saving Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, begins on Thursday night with the Matins of the Twelve Passion Gospels. Scattered throughout this Matins service are twelve readings from all four of the Gospels which recount the events of the Passion from the Last Supper through the Crucifixion and burial of Jesus. Some churches have a candelabrum with twelve candles on it, and after each Gospel reading one of the candles is extinguished.
Catholicon]] at Holy Trinity Monastery, Meteora, Greece
The first of these twelve readings is the longest Gospel reading of the liturgical year, and is a concatenation from all four Gospels. Just before the sixth Gospel reading, which recounts Jesus being nailed to the cross, a large cross is carried out of the sanctuary by the priest, accompanied by incense and candles, and is placed in the center of the nave (where the congregation gathers), with a two-dimensional painted icon of the body of Christ (Greek: soma) affixed to it. As the cross is being carried, the priest or a chanter chants a special antiphon, S meron Krem tai Ep X lou:
Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon the Cross (three times).
He who is King of the angels is arrayed in a crown of thorns.
He who wraps the Heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery.
He who in Jordan set Adam free receives blows upon His face.
The Bridegroom of the Church is transfixed with nails.
The Son of the Virgin is pierced with a spear.
We venerate Thy Passion, O Christ (three times).
Show us also Thy glorious Resurrection.
During the service, all come forward to kiss the feet of Christ on the cross. After the Canon, a brief, moving hymn, The Wise Thief is chanted by singers who stand at the foot of the cross in the center of the nave. The service does not end with the First Hour, as usual, but with a special dismissal by the priest:
May Christ our true God, Who for the salvation of the world endured spitting, and scourging, and buffeting, and the Cross, and death, through the intercessions of His most pure Mother, of our holy and God-bearing fathers, and of all the saints, have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and the Lover of mankind.
The next day, in the forenoon on Friday, all gather again to pray the Royal Hours, a special expanded celebration of the Little Hours (including the First Hour, Third Hour, Sixth Hour, Ninth Hour and Typica) with the addition of scripture readings (Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel) and hymns about the Crucifixion at each of the Hours (some of the material from the previous night is repeated). This service is somewhat more festive in character, and derives its name of "Royal" from both the fact that the Hours are served with more solemnity than normal, commemorating Christ the King who humbled himself for the salvation of mankind, and also from the fact that this service was in the past attended by the Emperor and his court.
Vespers of Holy and Great Friday
epitaphios]] ("winding sheet"), depicting the preparation of the body of Jesus for burial
In the afternoon, around 3 pm, all gather for the Vespers of the Taking-Down from the Cross, commemorating the Deposition from the Cross. The Gospel reading is a concatenation taken from all four of the Gospels. During the service, the body of Christ (the soma) is removed from the cross, as the words in the Gospel reading mention Joseph of Arimathea, wrapped in a linen shroud, and taken to the altar in the sanctuary. Near the end of the service an epitaphios or "winding sheet" (a cloth embroidered with the image of Christ prepared for burial) is carried in procession to a low table in the nave which represents the Tomb of Christ; it is often decorated with an abundance of flowers. The epitaphios itself represents the body of Jesus wrapped in a burial shroud, and is a roughly full-size cloth icon of the body of Christ. Then the priest may deliver a homily and everyone comes forward to venerate the epitaphios. In the Slavic practice, at the end of Vespers, Compline is immediately served, featuring a special Canon of the Crucifixion of our Lord and the Lamentation of the Most Holy Theotokos by Symeon the Logothete.
Matins of Holy and Great Saturday
The Epitaphios being carried in procession The Epitaphios mounted upon return of procession
On Friday night, the Matins of Holy and Great Saturday, a unique service known as The Lamentation at the Tomb (Epit phios Thr nos) is celebrated. This service is also sometimes called Jerusalem Matins. Much of the service takes place around the tomb of Christ in the center of the nave.
A unique feature of the service is the chanting of the Lamentations or Praises (Enk mia), which consist of verses chanted by the clergy interspersed between the verses of Psalm 119 (which is, by far, the longest psalm in the Bible). The Enk mia are the best-loved hymns of Byzantine hymnography, both their poetry and their music being uniquely suited to each other and to the spirit of the day. They consist of 185 tercet antiphons arranged in three parts (st seis or "stops"), which are interjected with the verses of Psalm 119, and nine short doxastik ("Gloriae") and Theot kia (invocations to the Virgin Mary). The three st seis are each set to its own music, and are commonly known by their initial antiphons: "Life in a grave", "Worthy it is", and "All the generations". Musically they can be classified as strophic, with 75, 62, and 48 tercet stanzas each, respectively. The climax of the Enk mia comes during the third st sis, with the antiphon " glyk mou ar", a lamentation of the Virgin for her dead Child ("O, my sweet spring, my sweetest child, where has your beauty gone?"). The author(s) and date of the Enk mia are unknown. Their High Attic linguistic style suggests a dating around the 6th century, possibly before the time of St. Romanos the Melodist.
At the end of the Great Doxology, while the Trisagion is sung, the epitaphios is taken in procession around the outside the church, and is then returned to the tomb. Some churches observe the practice of holding the epitaphios at the door, above waist level, so the faithful most bow down under it as they come back into the church, symbolizing their entering into the death and resurrection of Christ. The epitaphios will lay in the tomb until the Paschal Service early Sunday morning. In some churches, the epitaphios is never left alone, but is accompanied 24 hours a day by a reader chanting from the Psalter.
The Troparion (hymn of the day) of Good Friday is:
The noble Joseph, when he had taken down Thy most pure Body from the tree, wrapped it in fine linen, and anointed it with spices, and placed it in a new tomb. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen. The angel came to the myrrh-bearing women at the tomb and said: Myrrh is fitting for the dead, but Christ has shown Himself a stranger to corruption.
The 1662 Book of Common Prayer did not specify a particular rite to be observed on Good Friday but local custom came to mandate an assortment of services, including the Seven Last Words from the Cross and a three-hour service consisting of Matins, Ante-communion (using the Reserved Sacrament in high church parishes) and Evensong. In recent times revised editions of the Prayer Book and Common Worship have re-introduced pre-Reformation forms of observance of Good Friday corresponding to those in today's Roman Catholic Church, with special nods to the rites that had been observed in the Church of England prior to the Henrican, Edwardian and Elizabethan reforms, including Creeping to the Cross.
In Lutheran tradition from the 16th to the 20th century, Good Friday was the most important holiday, and abstention from all worldly works was expected. During that time, Lutheranism had no restrictions on the celebration of the Eucharist on Good Friday; on the contrary, it was a prime day on which to receive the Eucharist, and services were often accentuated by special music such as the St Matthew Passion by Lutheran Johann Sebastian Bach.
Mid-20th century Lutheran liturgical practice moved away from the Eucharist celebrated on Good Friday, and among the major Lutheran bodies today, the Eucharist is not celebrated on Good Friday. Rather, it is celebrated on Maundy Thursday.
Other Protestant traditions
Many other Protestant communities hold special services on this day as well. Moravians hold a Lovefeast on Good Friday as they receive Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday. The Methodist Church commemorates Good Friday with a service of worship, often based on the Seven Last Words from the Cross. It is not uncommon for some communities to hold interdenominational services on Good Friday.
Some Baptist, Pentecostal, many Sabbatarian and non-denominational churches oppose the observance of Good Friday, regarding it as a papist tradition, and instead observe the Crucifixion on Wednesday to coincide with the Jewish sacrifice of the Passover Lamb (which Christians believe is an Old Testament pointer to Jesus Christ). A Wednesday Crucifixion of Jesus Christ allows for Christ to be in the tomb ("heart of the earth") for three days and three nights as he told the Pharisees he would be (Matthew 12:40), rather than two nights and a day if he had died on a Friday. There is some basis in this idea in the Gospel of John, which has Jesus crucified on a Thursday evening (14 Nisan on the Hebrew calendar) instead of the Friday morning found in the Synoptic Gospels.
In many countries with a strong Christian tradition such as Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, the countries of the Caribbean, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela, the day is observed as a public or federal holiday. In the United States, 11 states observe Good Friday as state holiday.
In Bermuda, kites are flown. They are often handmade with wooden sticks, colorful tissue paper, glue, and string. The shape of the kite and the use of wood is meant to symbolize the cross that Jesus died on. Also, the kite flying in the sky symbolizes his ascension to heaven.
In Canada, banks and government offices (at all levels) and public sector businesses are closed, along with most private sector businesses, except in Quebec where government offices and schools are closed but the majority of private-sector businesses (except banks) remain open. Government regulated beer and liquor stores are also closed.
Hong Kong and Macau
In Hong Kong and Macau, all businesses and government offices are closed for a public holiday. Both SAR have a notable Christian population and have observed this holiday prior to their respective handover.
In India, Good Friday is a Central or Federal Government as well as a State Government holiday. The Stock Markets and banks are closed as it is regarded as a Negotiable Instruments Holiday. Some other businesses are also closed in states where Christians are in considerable numbers viz. Assam, Goa, and Kerala. The majority of business establishments remain open all over the country. Generally, all schools and colleges are closed in India on Good Friday.
Good Friday intercessory prayers, Austria In Muslim-majority Indonesia, Good Friday is a national holiday. All government offices, schools and certain businesses are closed on Good Friday by law and many newspapers choose not to publish on this day. Public holiday is also observed in Singapore and in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.
Good Friday service in Ireland Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country, prohibits all alcohol from being sold on Good Friday. Section 10 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1962 introduced "area exemption orders" to allow the sale of alcohol for the special events that occur on the same day. Banks and public institutions are closed on this day but it is not an official bank holiday (i.e. public holiday), so many offices and other workplaces remain open. All pubs and many restaurants in Ireland close for the day it is similar to Christmas Day in this regard. This tradition has come under criticism of late, with secular businesses claiming a loss in earnings by way of a religious festival.
In France, Good Friday is only observed in the Departments that once belonged to Germany: Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin and Moselle, along with some overseas departments such as Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane, and R union
In Germany, comedic theatre performances and events which include public dancing are illegal on the day (although this restriction is enforced unevenly); cinemas and television are not affected, although many TV channels show religious material on the day. The enforcement of these rules even on non-Christians has met with increased opposition in the last decade.
In Sweden, Denmark and Norway, Good Friday is a public holiday. Businesses and schools are closed on Good Friday, as well as some retail stores that either close all day, or half day.
In South Africa, the government regulates the opening of businesses and entertainment outlets on this day (as with Christmas Day). All government offices, schools and certain businesses are closed on Good Friday by law. The buying and selling of alcohol is prohibited.
In England and Wales, Good Friday is an official public holiday (a.k.a. Bank Holiday). All schools are closed and most businesses treat it as a holiday for staff; however, many retail stores remain open.
There is no horse racing on Good Friday in the UK. However, in 2008, betting shops opened for the first time on this day. The BBC has for many years introduced its 7 am News broadcast on Radio 4 on Good Friday with a verse from Isaac Watts' hymn "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross".
In the United States, Good Friday is not a government holiday at the federal level; however individual states, counties and municipalities may observe the holiday. Good Friday is a state holiday in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. State and local government offices and courts are closed, as well as some banks and postal offices in these states, and in those counties and municipalities where Good Friday is observed as holiday. Good Friday is also a holiday in U.S. territories of Guam, U.S. Virgin Island and Puerto Rico.
Most private businesses and certain other institutions are closed on Good Friday. The financial market and stock market is closed on Good Friday. Most retail stores remain open, or might close early. Public schools and most universities are closed on Good Friday, either as a holiday of its own, or part of spring break. The postal service operates, and banks regulated by the federal government do not close for Good Friday.
Eastern Orthodox Christians are not supposed to eat at all on this day and the next, while the Catholic Church observes fasting and abstinence for this day as well as Ash Wednesday.
Traditionally, Roman Catholics are to abstain from eating meat every Friday of the year as penance. In the US this is only a requirement during Fridays of Lent; during Fridays of the rest of the year, other methods of penance may be followed, for example an extra prayer or abstaining from something other than food. Many Roman Catholics (and members of the Protestant denominations as well) will eat fish and vegetables on Good Friday.
Calculating the date
Good Friday is the Friday before Easter, which is calculated differently in Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity (see Computus for details). Easter falls on the first Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, the full moon on or after 21 March, taken to be the date of the vernal equinox. The Western calculation uses the Gregorian calendar, while the Eastern calculation uses the Julian calendar, whose 21 March now corresponds to the Gregorian calendar's 3 April. The calculations for identifying the date of the full moon also differ. See Easter Dating Method (Astronomical Society of South Australia).
In Eastern Christianity, Easter can fall between March 22 and April 25 on Julian Calendar (thus between April 4 and May 8 in terms of the Gregorian calendar, during the period 1900 and 2099), so Good Friday can fall between March 20 and April 23, inclusive (or between April 2 and May 6 in terms of the Gregorian calendar). (See Easter.)
Good Friday assumes a particular importance in the plot of Richard Wagner's music drama Parsifal, which contains an orchestral interlude known as the "Good Friday Music".
- Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ
- Belfast Agreement, also known as the Good Friday Agreement
- Crucifixion of Jesus
- Good Friday Prayer
- Good Friday Prayer for the Jews
- Islamic view of Jesus' death
Notes and references
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