Good Friday, anniversary of Jesus’ death on the cross. According to the Gospels, Jesus was put to death on the Friday before Easter Day. Since the early church Good Friday has been observed by fasting and penance. In the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican traditions, the celebration of the Eucharist is suspended; liturgical service involves veneration of the cross, the Passion narrative from the Gospel of St. John, and communion using bread and wine consecrated the previous day, Maundy Thursday. Other forms of observance include prayer and meditation at the Stations of the Cross, a succession of 14 images, usually on wooden crosses, depicting Christ’s crucifixion and the events leading up to it.
Friday before Easter, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus. As early as the 2nd century it was kept by Christians as a day of penance and fasting. The Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches have special liturgies for the day, which include readings and prayers commemorating Christ’s sufferings on the cross. Protestant churches also hold special services on Good Friday.
For more information on Good Friday, visit Britannica.com. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994-2008 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
This day has been in the Christian calendar even longer than Easter. And although it was neglected for a long time by Protestant churches, Good Friday has again come into almost universal observance by Christians. From noon to three o’clock many western Christian churches in the U.S. hold the Tre Ore (Italian for “three hours,” referring to the last three hours Jesus hung on the cross), a service based on the last seven things Jesus said on the cross. Many churches also observe the day by reenacting the procession to the cross as in the ritual of the Stations of the Cross.
In every Orthodox church, the Epitaphios, a gold-embroidered pall representing the body of Christ, is laid on a special platform, which is smothered in flowers. During the evening service, the platform is carried out of the church in a procession. The faithful follow, carrying lighted candles and chanting hymns. At squares and crossroads, the procession stops for a prayer by the priest.
Long Friday is another name for Good Friday. In Norway, this day is called Langfredag ; in Finland, Pitkäperjantai (or Long Friday) because it was a day of suffering for Christ.
See also Pleureuses, Ceremony of
Orthodox Church in America
P.O. Box 675
Syosset, NY 11791
516-922-0550; fax: 516-922-0954
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 237
BkFest-1937, pp. 6, 16, 30, 41, 56, 70, 86, 96, 103, 112, 121, 147, 167, 184, 211, 227, 249, 259, 275, 291, 300, 309, 330, 338
DaysCustFaith-1957, p. 107
DictFolkMyth-1984, pp. 181, 961, 1072
EncyEaster-2002, p. 234
EncyRel-1987, vol. 3, p. 439
FestSaintDays-1915, p. 62
FestWestEur-1958, pp. 8, 93, 107, 152, 212
FolkAmerHol-1999, p. 168
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 224
OxYear-1999, p. 618
RelHolCal-2004, pp. 93, 120
SaintFestCh-1904, p. 160
Celebrated in: Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, England and Wales, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras,Hong Kong, Iceland, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico,Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Niue, Northern Ireland, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru,Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Georgia, Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe
In Veurne, there is a pilgrims’ procession that stops before each of the 18 Stations of the Cross, built there in 1680, to pray and sing hymns. The distance between the different stations is said to correspond to the number of steps (5,751) taken by Christ as he went from Jerusalem to Mount Calvary. The original Stations of the Cross were sites associated with Christ’s Passion in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Pictures or carvings of the Stations of the Cross can often be seen on the walls of Roman Catholic churches.
Belgian Tourist Office
220 E. 42nd St., Ste. 3402
New York, NY 10017
212-758-8130; fax: 212-355-7675
BkFest-1937, p. 41
BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 54
FestWestEur-1958, p. 8
Celebrated in: Belgium
Breakfast on Easter is another Bermudian tradition. It consists of salted cod that has been soaked overnight and then boiled the next day with potatoes. It is served with an olive oil and mayonnaise topping, and sliced bananas on the side.
Bermuda Department of Tourism
675 Third Ave., Fl. 20
New York, NY 10017
800-223-6106 or 212-818-9800; fax: 212-983-5289
BkHolWrld-1986, Apr 10
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 226
Celebrated in: Bermuda
Good Friday (England)
Other Good Friday superstitions include the belief that breaking a piece of crockery on Good Friday would bring good luck because the sharp point would penetrate Judas Iscariot’s body. In rural areas, boys often hunted squirrels on this day, because according to legend, Judas was turned into a squirrel.
BkFest-1937, p. 56
EncyEaster-2002, p. 178
FestSaintDays-1915, p. 63
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 241
At Santa Croce and other churches in Florence, a custom known as “Thrashing Judas Iscariot” traditionally has been observed on Good Friday. Young boys bring long willow rods tied with colored ribbons to church and at a certain point in the service, they beat the benches loudly with the branches.
Italian Government Tourist Board
630 Fifth Ave., Ste. 1565
New York, NY 10111
212-245-5618; fax: 212-586-9249
BkFest-1937, p. 184
EncyEaster-2002, p. 313
FestSaintDays-1915, p. 64
FestWestEur-1958, p. 93
Celebrated in: Italy
The funereal atmosphere is maintained throughout the day. Running, shouting, or using profanity is discouraged, in reverence for the Lord. The mood of those attending church services is very much that of friends and neighbors paying a condolence call on the members of a bereaved family.
See also Passion Play at Tzintzuntzan
BkFest-1937, p. 227
EncyEaster-2002, pp. 240, 406
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 235
Celebrated in: Mexico
In Krakow and other large cities, going from church to church on Good Friday to view the replicas of Jesus’ body that are on display traditionally is considered to be an important social event.
See also Easter in the Ukraine
BkFest-1937, p. 259
EncyEaster-2002, p. 500
Celebrated in: Poland
In Seville, the Good Friday procession dates back to the Middle Ages and includes more than 100 pasos, many of which are elaborate works of art in themselves, with platforms made out of real silver and figures wearing robes embroidered in gold. Among the more outstanding pasos are those portraying the Agony in the Garden, Christ Bearing the Cross, the Crucifixion, and the Descent from the Cross. They are carried by black-robed penitents through the streets of Seville, followed by cross-bearers, uniformed civic leaders, and clergy in magnificent robes.
Tourist Office of Spain
666 Fifth Ave., 35th Fl.
New York, NY 10103
212-265-8822; fax: 212-265-8864
BkFest-1937, p. 300
BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 54
EncyEaster-2002, pp. 240, 565
Celebrated in: Spain
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