It is ironical that the Friday before Easter Sunday associated with the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ is known all across the globe as Good Friday. This day is remembered as one of the grave days signifying excruciating torture and pain that led to Jesus' last breath. The crucifixion is lamented by Christians to commemorate Jesus' compassion for salvation of sinful humanity. This year, Good Friday falls on April 3rd.
There are a number of theories that justify this "day of lament" in positive terms. One theory is of the opinion that "Good" in Good Friday comes from the word "God".
Another theory says that "Good" refers to holy. Several Christians are often perceived referring to this day as "The Great Friday". Some parts of the world also knows this day as "The Black Friday", "The Sorrowful Friday" or "Long Friday".
One of the oldest Christian holidays, this day has been observed since 100 CE. Christian nations including Australia, Ecuador, United Kingdom, Bolivia, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Dominican Republic, New Zealand, Guatemala, Venezuela and Spain enjoy a public holiday on Good Friday. However, Good Friday is not treated as a federal holiday in the United States of America.
Most Christians are expected to keep a fast and bear a little pain, even if it is just for a day. Meat and alcohol are strictly prohibited for consumption on this day. Traditionally, Polish Christians fast on roasted potatoes and dry bread.
In short, any celebration, entertainments and events are abstained by Christian individuals in every country across the globe. Even covering Jesus' statues and idols with black cloth and creating an atmosphere of bareness in one's homes by removing flowers, decorative pieces and shining objects are some of the rituals followed on the day of mourning.
This mournful day is observed by conducting masses at churches, reading passages from the Bible and singing Good Friday songs.
All the religious activities add significance to this holy day. Most church services are organized in the afternoon, usually between noon to 3pm, to remember the final hours when Jesus was crucified. Many Christian institutions in Italy, India, Malta, the Philippines, and Spain observe the day by re-enacting the procession of the cross held during Jesus's lifetime.
Christians around the globe end the day by chanting payers and meditating at the church. The prayers and sermons that are associated with Good Friday bring to light Jesus Christ's sacrifices and sufferings for the short period he walked on this earth.
It was Jesus' blood which acted as the instrument for atonement. Such an atonement brought peace and forgiveness to those who had been tainted with sins.
People are also encouraged to perform little philanthropic activities to give respite to the poor and the needy. Devotees dressed in black also tend to go out for processions with the idol of Jesus Christ. Some institutions, churches also carry out a ritual burial.
Since the beginning of the 19th century, Bermudians fly handmade kites symbolizing Jesus's ascension into heaven after painful crucifixion.
Good Friday is observed on the Friday that falls just before Easter. Alternatively, it can be referred to as "the last Friday of Lent." In 2015, Good Friday will be observed on April 03rd. The date varies every year, owing to the fact that it is determined based on the lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar (which is usually known as the regular calendar).Basically, the customs that are observed on Good Friday are not considered to be celebrations; rather, the day is set aside for abstinence and fasting. This is the day that Christians believe Jesus Christ gave His life to save mankind, and suffered pain and agony on the Cross for His people. Therefore, they spend the day recalling that pain and reflecting on Jesus' sacrifice.Given below are certain customs and traditions that are observed on Good Friday.
This is the only day when the church's altar is not decorated.
You won't find a burning candle, or any other form of adornment. The entire day is dedicated to saying prayers and exercising self-denial.
The idea behind this is that, on this day, every Christian partakes in the painful experience that Jesus Christ had to suffer through when He was being crucified.
So, followers must refrain from pleasurable activities like watching television, consuming rich foods, drinking alcohol, and smoking.
People who observe Good Friday restrain themselves from having large meals on this day. Often, they will have lighter meals, or only have one for the entire day.
Such a meal should essentially be without any kind of meat products, and is consumed after sunset. Those who participate can drink water, but do not consume any solid food until the time of the meal.
This is applicable for people between the ages of 18 and 59, however, those suffering from illnesses are not required to do anything that might aggravate their condition.
For most Christians, liturgical services take center stage throughout the day. Worshippers gather at the church around midday for the prayer services, at the time when it is assumed that Jesus was first crucified.
This service will last for a couple of hours. Passages are read from the Gospel, with the main focus being on the Seven Last Words of Christ.
Once the Bible readings are finished, the priest (or minister, in Protestant churches) explains the meaning of these holy words. Thereafter, the worshippers pray in silence for a couple of minutes, sing hymns, and meditate.
There are a number of different customs performed during Good Friday services among the many Christian denominations.
These can include such rites as Holy Communion, the Liturgy of the Word (praying for nonbelievers), and the Veneration of the Cross. Most churches in the Western tradition focus on the Seven Last Words and observe the Tenebrae, or Service of Darkness, in which psalms are recited and a series of candles are extinguished.
The earthquake that is said to have followed the death of Christ is then symbolized with a loud noise, called the strepitus.
The color for this day is now mainly red, used in the hangings that decorate the church as well as the clothing (or vestments) worn by the clergy. The more traditional color, however, is black, and it is still used for this purpose in many churches even today.