A Stabat Mater depiction, 1868
Good Friday 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 Holy Friday, Great Friday, Black Friday, or Easter Friday, though the last term properly 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 day before the Jewish Sabbath) (John 19:42). The estimated year of the Crucifixion 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.
Good Friday is a widely-instituted legal holiday in many national governments around the world, including in most Western countries (especially among Catholic nations and majority-Catholic countries) as well as in 12 U.S. states. Some governments have laws prohibiting certain acts that are seen as profaning the solemn nature of the day.
The significance of Good Friday
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Good Friday, in the Adoration of the Cross, in the chanting of the 'Reproaches', in the reading of the Passion, and in receiving the pre-consecrated Host, we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord.
The Church - stripped of its ornaments, the altar bare, and with the door of the empty tabernacle standing open - is as if in mourning. In the fourth century the Apostolic Constitutions described this day as a 'day of mourning, not a day of festive joy,' and this day was called the 'Pasch (passage) of the Crucifixion.'
The liturgical observance of this day of Christ's suffering, crucifixion and death evidently has been in existence from the earliest days of the Church. No Mass is celebrated on this day, but the service of Good Friday is called the Mass of the Presanctified because Communion (in the species of bread) which had already been consecrated on Holy Thursday is given to the people.
"What is Good Friday / Holy Friday?"
Good Friday, also known as "Holy Friday," is the Friday immediately preceding Easter Sunday. It is celebrated traditionally as the day on which Jesus was crucified. Assuming that Jesus was crucified and died on a Friday, should Christians remember Jesus' death by celebrating Good Friday? The Bible does not instruct Christians to remember Christ’s death by honoring a certain day. The Bible does give us freedom in these matters, however. Romans 14:5 tells us, “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Rather than remembering Christ's death on a certain day, once a year, the Bible instructs us to remember Christ’s death by observing the Lord’s Supper. First Corinthians 11:24-26 declares, “...do this in remembrance of me...for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.”
Why is Good Friday referred to as “good”? What the Jewish authorities and Romans did to Jesus was definitely not good (see Matthew chapters 26-27). However, the results of Christ’s death are very good! Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” First Peter 3:18 tells us, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.”
Many Christian churches celebrate Good Friday with a subdued service, usually in the evening, in which Christ’s death is remembered with solemn hymns, prayers of thanksgiving, a message centered on Christ suffering for our sakes, and observance of the Lord's Supper. Whether or not Christians choose to “celebrate” Good Friday, the events of that day should be ever on our minds because the death of Christ on the cross is the paramount event of the Christian faith.
Good Friday History, Information, Prayers, Resources, Meaning, Traditions, & More
Good Friday is the Friday of Holy Week, which commemorates the crucifixion, suffering, and death of Jesus. Good Friday is a fast day in the Catholic Church, and falls within the Paschal Triduum. In 2015 it is celebrated on April 3rd.
Good Friday is the Friday within Holy Week, and is a time of fasting and penance, commemorating the suffering, crucifixion, and death of the Lord. For Christians, this holy day commemorates not just a historical event, but the sacrificial death of Christ, which along with the resurrection, comprises the heart of the Christian faith. The Catholic Catechism states this clearly:
Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men (CCC 1992).This is based on the words of St. Paul: "[Believers] are justified freely by God's grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his blood... (Romans 3:24-25, NAB). The customs and prayers associated with Good Friday typically focus on the theme of Christ's sacrificial death for our sins.
What’s So Good about Good Friday?
Why do we call Good Friday “good,” when it is such a dark and bleak event commemorating a day of suffering and death for Jesus? For Christians, Good Friday is a crucial day of the year because it celebrates what we believe to be the most momentous weekend in the history of the world. Ever since Jesus died and was raised, Christians have proclaimed the cross and resurrection of Jesus to be the decisive turning point for all creation. Paul considered it to be “of first importance” that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and was raised to life on the third day, all in accordance with what God had promised all along in the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3).
On Good Friday we remember the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins (1 John 1:10). It is followed by Easter, the glorious celebration of the day Jesus was raised from the dead, heralding his victory over sin and death and pointing ahead to a future resurrection for all who are united to him by faith (Romans 6:5).
Still, why call the day of Jesus’ death “Good Friday” instead of “Bad Friday” or something similar? Some Christian traditions do take this approach: in German, for example, the day is called Karfreitag, or “Sorrowful Friday.” In English, in fact, the origin of the term “Good” is debated: some believe it developed from an older name, “God’s Friday.” Regardless of the origin, the name Good Friday is entirely appropriate because the suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the dramatic culmination of God’s plan to save his people from their sins.