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Good Friday

Is it a paradox that the world refers the day of Jesus’s death as Good Friday? It is considered that the words Good Friday has evolved from “God’s Friday”. It is the day which is central to the ideologies and beliefs of Christianity. The day is not about celebration, but of mourning.

It is this black day when the Lord Jesus, the son of God was crucified by the order of Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate. The day is commemorated through fast and penance. It is not a celebration rather all believers of Christianity mourn the last moments of their beloved Son of God. The death and then the crucifixion of Jesus Christ are remembered on this day. It is considered as the most solemn day in Christianity. The day varies each year as it is based on the March equinox, but generally falls between March 20 and April 23. The last Friday before Easter is the Good Friday.

Goodness and Good Friday:

Good Friday makes the world remember the greatness of God’s love and God’s submission to death for humanity. The commemoration of Jesus’ death makes the humanity aware of the human sin and betrayal that led to his death. It makes us realize that salvation can be attained through godly sorrow and repentance. So to get happiness, one needs to experience sorrow. This is the very essence of Good Friday and this goodness makes it ‘good’. Jesus Christ sacrificed his life to make the world realize the importance of good. This is the major reason why this Black Friday is popularly known as “Good Friday or Great Friday”.

Traditions Followed by Different Countries:

The day is observed by performing various rituals and these rituals vary from country to country.

  • England: The day is declared as an official public holiday in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Most of the stores remain close. One more tradition followed in the UK is no horse racing on the particular day of Good Friday.
  • Germany: On the day of Good Friday, all kinds of theatre performances and public dances are treated as illegal. It is only religious programs that are encouraged by the TV channels.
  • United States: It is not an official government holiday but is celebrated by the believers in their own way. Although it is not compulsory to close institutions and businesses, but stock market remains closed.
  • India: It is a public holiday in the country. The majority of stock markets remain closed. In many states various activities are held and the people from Christian community keep fast and follow the rituals related to Good Friday.
  • South Africa: The day is declared as the official holiday in South Africa. All the institutions, government offices, businesses remain closed. Moreover, there is restriction on selling and buying alcohol.
Rituals of Good Friday in Various Churches:

The rituals of Good Friday vary from church to church. Each church commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus, but mourns in different ways.

  • Protestant Church: Many Protestants organise their Good Friday services in the afternoon in between noon and 3 to commemorate the last 3 hours of Jesus’ death on the cross. There are a series of songs and readings on the last seven words of Jesus.
  • Catholic Church: Good Friday Mass is observed by removing all the adornments of the captionar and then the worshippers show their respect by kissing a crucifix. Greek Catholics carry a piece of cloth which symbolises Jesus’ body to the shrine and then the priest places the cloth on a symbolic tomb.
  • Other Western Church: Few Western Churches follow the ritual of medieval liturgy known as Tenebrae, commonly known as the Service of Darkness. Each candle and light is slowly extinguished and the crowd sits in complete darkness to feel the darkness that covered the earth after the death of Holy Jesus. Scriptures are read and the service comes to an end with a ritual called Strepitus which is a harsh loud sound. It represents the various sounds like an earthquake during Jesus’ death and resurrection, shutting the tomb and the final cries of Jesus.

Apart from these different rituals, most of the churches have some common ceremonies. The churches mourn the death of the Lord Jesus with services in the evening that are generally subdued in nature. Jesus Christ is remembered with prayers, solemn hymns, messages of Christ’s suffering, thanksgiving and finally observing the Lord’s Supper.

Good Friday is an event of paramount level in Christianity. It brings back to the humanity the memory of Jesus’ sacrifice for the sin committed by humans. It is a time to repent and do penance by realizing the significance of Jesus’ crucifixion and then the resurrection on the day of Easter. Good Friday is indeed a day that has challenged the human goodness. It reminds us that our goodness avails almost nothing in the face of our sin. It is Jesus; the symbol of good that saved us and the day is surely a Good Friday.

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