Good Friday also known as Holy Friday is celebrated in the easter week. The Friday of the Easter week is celebrated as good Friday. It is observed as a holiday in most of the countries and also, this day marks the crucifixion of Jesus. The “Good” in the etymology just means Holy. This Friday immediately precedes Easter Sunday. Many people observe fasts on this day and chant religious prayers.
Little Bit of History of Good Friday
As early as the first century, the Church set aside every Friday as a special day of prayer and fasting. It was not until the fourth century, however, that the Church began observing the Friday before Easter as the day associated with the crucifixion of Christ. First called Holy or Great Friday by the Greek Church, the name “Good Friday” was adopted by the Roman Church around the sixth or seventh century.
Good Friday Traditions
The rituals and traditions observed this day, are distinct from every other Church observances. They add to Good Friday’s significance. The ceremony is sober, with priests and deacons dressing in black vestments. The pulpit and the altar are bare; no candles are lit. The purpose behind the solemn presentation is to create an awareness of grief over the sacrifice of God’s only begotten Son. Today, many churches hold special services on Good Friday evening to commemorate this important day.
Some Significant Good Friday Church Rituals
There are some rituals that are followed on this day. Starting anytime between midnight and 3 a.m., priests and other clerics begin to recite specific prayers. At the morning ceremony, the priest or church official chant lessons from the scriptures. After that, there is a succession of prayers asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness on all mankind.
At the noon hour comes the Adoration of the Cross, where a representation of the True Cross is uncovered and the clergy and laity pay homage to the sacrifice of Jesus. Most interestingly, in the Jerusalem Church, a remnant of the True Cross itself is presented for the ceremony. Next comes the Mass of the Pre-sanctified. The ceremony concludes around 3 p.m. with a procession, followed by evening prayers.
In many of the Protestant churches, Good Friday rituals begin at noon and last until 3 p.m. This coincides with the hours that Jesus was hung on the cross. These services often include sermons on the last seven phrases that Jesus spoke while being crucified.
To many Christians, Good Friday is a day of sorrow mingled with joy. It is a time to grieve over the sin of man and to meditate and rejoice upon God’s love in giving His only Son for the redemption of sin.
The dates of Good Friday, which vary each year, occur between March 20th and April 23rd. It falls on the last Friday before Easter. It is the pinnacle of the Holy Week. All Christians observe this day with great humility and reverence.