Good Friday

News Excerpt: 

Good Friday, significant for Christians, marks Jesus' crucifixion at Calvary. In 2024, it falls on March 29, two days before Easter. 

Why is Good Friday observed?

  • The story of Jesus Christ focuses on the ideals of sacrifice and forgiveness. Jesus of Nazareth (in present-day Israel) was believed to have lived a humble life as a carpenter more than 2,000 years ago. 
    • At the time, Judaism was the prevalent religion in the region and the Romans ruled the land.
  • Jesus began preaching messages of compassion and brotherhood. He gained a few followers in the process, but his criticism of the powerful classes for stifling the weak led the Roman authorities to arrest him
    • His preaching and questioning were also seen as a threat to the existing social, religious, and political setup.
  • Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Jewish holiday of Passover. He told his disciples during his final meal or The Last Supper that authorities would come after him soon. 
    • His disciple Judas Iscariot would betray his trust, leading the Romans to arrest him on charges of blasphemy and treason.
  • Jesus agonized on the cross for six hours and then gave up his spirit. 
  • In the evening, his body was taken down from the cross by a secret follower, who wrapped the body in a clean linen shroud, and placed it in his own new tomb that had been carved in the rock. 
    • The following Sunday, his tomb was found to be empty.
  • Since then, many people reported witnessing Jesus’s presence and these incidents were seen as proof of his divinity. 
    • This is why the Sunday that follows Good Friday is celebrated as Easter, marking the resurrection of Christ.

Why is it called ‘Good’ Friday?

There are several theories as to why the word “Good” is associated with the day.

  • “Good” in this context refers to “a day or season observed as holy by the church”.
  • A US Catholic school text says Good Friday is good because Christ “showed his great love for man, and purchased for him every blessing”.
  • The Catholic Encyclopedia suggests “God’s Friday” or Gottes Freitag in German as an origin. 
  • The day was called “Long Friday" by the Anglo-Saxons and is referred to as such in modern Danish.

Why do the dates for Easter & Good Friday differ every year?

  • It changes every year depending on the full Moon. 
  • The simple standard definition of Easter is that 
    • It is the first Sunday after the full Moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox.
    • The spring equinox is the day when both the northern and southern hemispheres receive the same amount of light and darkness from the Sun.
  • But this is not an exact science. 
    • To set a date, March 21 is assumed to be the spring equinox every year, even though the “real” date may be a day early or later.
  • The reasons for this are that the method is then independent of longitude on the Earth and is thus independent of time zone. 
    • It also allows the date of Easter to be calculated in advance regardless of the actual motion of the Earth around the Sun.

How is Good Friday observed?

  • Good Friday is not exactly celebrated but rather observed with reverence. 
  • Churches all around the world hold special services, like:
    • Includes readings from the books and scriptures, recounting the events leading up to the crucifixion, hymns of reflection and repentance, and prayers for forgiveness.
  • Many churches also conduct the Stations of the Cross, a devotional practice that shows Jesus' journey to Calvary, symbolizing his suffering and sacrifice.
  • In some parts of the world, 
    • Good Friday is observed as a public holiday. 
    • The holiday allows people to visit their nearby churches, participate in mass and other rituals, and make it a day of reflection and forgiveness.