Christians observe Good Friday every year to celebrate Jesus’ crucifixion, death and suffering. The day is observed 3 days before Easter Sunday. Good Friday and the Easter date solely depend on the ecclesiastical estimation of the March equinox. As such, Good Friday may be observed on any Friday from March 20th to April 23rd. In 2014, Good Friday 2014 will be celebrated on April 18th.

In most Western and Christian-majority nations, Good Friday is public/national holiday. However, it is not a public holiday in the US although individual municipalities and states may celebrate it as a holiday. It is observed as a state holiday in Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, New Jersey and North Carolina, among other states. It is also marked as a holiday in Guam, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands. The financial and stock markets in the US do not operate on Good Friday.

The Origin of Good Friday

According to the Christian faith, Good Friday is not a festive day but a sad day to mourn the death of Jesus Christ. The word ‘Good Friday’ is believed to have originated from the Gallican church in Gaul (modern day Germany and France). The church named this day ‘Gute Fretage’ which basically means Holy or Good Friday. Some Christians believe that it was originally known as God Friday before the word God was dropped and replaced with good. They believe that this change happened because the word God was very holy for commoners to utter. In some nations, Good Friday is also known as Great Friday, Long Friday, Holy Friday, Silent Friday and Black Friday.

Adherents of the Christian faith believe that the day is rightfully called Good Friday since on this day Jesus died and arose to heaven to cleanse the sins of the people. Easter is then celebrated to mark the day Jesus arose from death.

In the first century, Friday was considered a special and important day for fasting and praying, although this had no connection to the crucifixion of Jesus. However, in the fourth century, the church started celebrating the Friday before Easter as a special day when Jesus was crucified. The Greek Church was the first church to name it the Great Friday before the name was changed to Good Friday in the 6th or 7th century.

Some important events have occurred on Good Friday. In 1998, the Irish and British governments signed a peace treaty in Belfast to improve the peace process in Northern Ireland. This peace process brought to an end the conflict between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Since the peace treaty was signed on April 10, 1998 (a Good Friday), it was called the Good Friday agreement.

Activities and Celebrations on Good Friday

There are several activities that people do on Good Friday. During Good Friday 2014, Christians from all parts of the globe will celebrate this special day by fasting, mourning, engaging in processions and attending church service. Some nations, states and municipalities will give people a public holiday to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ. Christians who will attend church services may stay up to 3 hours in the church, depending on their convenience. This signifies the period Jesus Christ suffered on the cross.

During Good Friday 2014, candles will remain extinguished while statues, crosses and paintings will be covered in purple, gray or black cloth. Some Christians will bake and eat hot cross buns while others will avoid some types of non-vegetarian foods. Hot cross buns are a traditional Good Friday sweet in most parts of the world. Some homes will maintain a silent atmosphere with limited television, computer and radio use.

In most Western countries, businesses will remain closed for the day while advertising and broadcasts on the radio and television will be reduced to some degree. For instance, most businesses, public institutions and banks will remain closed in Ireland during this Good Friday 2014. In Germany, comedic theatre performances are illegal on Good Friday. In addition, most TV channels will air religious content on Good Friday 2014.

People do different activities on Good Friday depending on their church, community, nation or state.

Symbols Used on Good Friday

The crucifix or cross is an important symbol on Good Friday because it signifies the way Jesus Christ died. Some crosses have a figure of Christ. A black cloth is also used on Good Friday to symbolize sadness and mourning.