Good Friday Meaning: Good Friday is a Christian holiday that remembers the day Jesus was put on the cross and died at Calvary. It is part of the Paschal Triduum and is celebrated throughout Holy Week. It is also called Holy Friday, Great Friday, Great and Holy Friday, and Black Friday. Many Christians fast and go to church services on Good Friday. This includes Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Oriental Orthodox, United Protestants, and certain Reformed Christians.
Good Friday Information
On Good Friday, people who go to the Moravian Church scrub the gravestones in Moravian cemeteries. In both the Gregorian and Julian calendars, the date of Good Friday changes from year to year. It is a legal holiday in many places across the world, including 12 U.S. states and most Western countries. The day was termed “Long Friday” in Old English, and similar words are still used in Scandinavian and Finnish languages.
Good Friday is called Karfreitag, Goede Vrijdag, Stiller Freitag, and Hoher Freitag in Dutch, Frisian, German, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Scandinavian. According to the Gospels, Jesus was seized by royal troops in the Garden of Gethsemane and taken to the home of Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest. Several witnesses spoke different things about Jesus, and the Sanhedrin found him guilty of blasphemy.
Jesus responded, “You have said it, and in time you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Almighty.” The crowd took Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, and accused him of trying to overthrow the government, not pay taxes to Caesar, and make himself king. Pilate asked Jesus questions and assured the crowd that there was no reason to put Jesus to death.
He told King Herod, who was in charge of Galilee, about the matter. King Herod then sent Jesus back to Pilate. After flogging Jesus, Pilate brought him out in front of the crowd to free him. The chief priests told Pilate about a new charge and asked that Jesus be put to death “because he said he was God’s son.” Pilate said Jesus was innocent and washed his hands to show he had nothing to do with this sentence. So that there would not be a riot, he gave Jesus over to be crucified.
Good Friday History
Jesus took his cross to the area where he would be killed. This place was called “the place of the skull” or “Golgotha” in Hebrew and “Calvary” in Latin. He was put on the cross alongside two other offenders and suffered for six hours. During the last three hours of his life, Jesus spoke from the cross. He quoted Psalm 22, which is about the Messiah. Jesus gave up his life and was put to death on a cross. Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus.
He was a member of the Sanhedrin and a secret supporter of Jesus. Nicodemus brought a blend of spices that weighed 100 pounds and used linen to wrap the body. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb and found that Jesus had risen from the dead. Byzantine Christians call this day “Great and Holy Friday” or just “Great Friday” because it is a day to remember what Jesus did for us when he was crucified.
The Divine Liturgy is never held on Great Friday, except when it falls on the same day as the Great Feast of the Annunciation, and the clergy no longer wear purple or crimson vestments. By reading Psalms and Gospels in public and singing hymns commemorating Christ’s death, the faithful remember what happened that day. In the East, there is no “stripping of the altar” on Holy and Great Thursday, and until the Divine Liturgy on Great Saturday, all of the church hangings are changed to black.
The Holy Church shows believers a whole image of the Lord’s redemptive suffering, from his bloody sweat in the Garden of Gethsemane through his death on the cross at Golgotha. On Holy and Great Friday, Byzantine Christians take part in a strict fast called the Black Fast. Adult Byzantine Christians are supposed to go the whole day without eating or drinking, as far as their health will allow.
Matins of the Twelve Passion Gospels are read from all four Gospels, and the priest moves a big cross from the sanctuary to the middle of the nave. The first of these twelve readings comes from all four Gospels and is the longest Gospel reading of the liturgical year. The Passion of Jesus is read by Smeron Kremtai Ep Xlou. It tells what happened during Jesus’s Passion, from the Last Supper through his death on the cross and burial.
The service is a reminder of how Christ, who is King, humbled himself to save people. After the Canon, singers stand at the foot of the cross in the middle of the nave and recite a short, poignant hymn called “The Wise Thief.” As usual, the service does not end after the first hour. Instead, the priest gives a unique dismissal. The next day, on Friday morning, everyone gets together for the Royal Hours.
This is a special, longer version of the Little Hours, and it includes readings from the Bible and songs about the Crucifixion. The Taking-Down from the Cross is remembered in the Vespers of the Taking-Down from the Cross. The Evening Prokimenon comes from Psalm 21: “They divided My garments among themselves and cast lots on My vesture.” An Alleluia with verses from Psalm 68, “Save me,” comes after this.
The gospel reading is a combination of three of the four gospels. It tells the tale of the Crucifixion according to St. Matthew, the confession of the good thief according to St. Luke, and blood and water gushing from Jesus’ side according to St. John. During the ritual, the corpse of Christ is taken down from the crucifixion, wrapped in a linen shroud, and taken to the altar in the sanctuary.
A procession carries an epitaphios, which means “wrapping sheet,” to a low table in the nave that stands in for the tomb of Christ. The epitaph itself portrays the body of Jesus wrapped in a burial shroud. At the end of the ceremony, there is hope for the Resurrection. The Lamentations or Praise (Enkmia) are the best-known hymns from Byzantine hymnography.
They are made up of 185 three-part tercet antiphons. There are 75, 62, and 48 tercet stanzas in each of them, making them strophic. The most important part of the Enkmia is the antiphon “glyk mou Éar,” which is a sorrowful statement by the Virgin for her slain child. The Evlogitaria (benedictions) of the Resurrection are sung just like on Sunday because they talk about what the myrrh-bearers and the priest said to each other.
Good Friday Facts
Good Friday and Holy Saturday are part of the Easter fast in the Catholic Church. Between the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening and the Easter Vigil, there is no Mass. The doxasticon compares Christ’s rest in the tomb to His rest on the seventh day of creation, while the theotokion (“Most blessed are you, O Virgin Theotokos…”) is the same as what is said on Sundays. The epitaph is carried around the outside of the church in a procession, and then it is taken back to the tomb.
The troparion is read, and then a number of readings and prokimena are said. At the end of the ritual, when people come to honor the Epitaphios, they sing one last song. The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord takes place in the afternoon, ideally about 3 p.m., but it is okay to celebrate earlier. It has three parts: the liturgy of the word, the adoration of the cross, and the Holy Communion.
The altar is empty, and until the Easter Vigil, no bells are rung. Except during the Communion phase of the ceremony, when violet was utilized, the liturgical color of the vestments is red. On Good Friday, only people who could not go to Vespers pray, and the Three Hours’ Devotion, which is focused on the Seven Last Words from the Cross, starts at noon and goes until 3 p.m. There are processions with statues that show the suffering and death of Christ.
As a way to make up for the pain and insults that Jesus went through on Good Friday during his Passion, Roman Catholics pray and worship in certain ways. In Rome, the Temple of Venus and Roma has been utilized as a public address platform because of how high it is and how close it is to the main entrance to the Colosseum. On Holy Saturday, a tableau of Christ’s tomb is set up in the sanctuary of Polish churches, and people come to see a life-size image of Jesus lying in his tomb.
Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ do not ask for someone to get something but instead try to “fix the sins” that people have done against Jesus. Pope John Paul II called them “the never-ending effort to stand next to the endless crosses on which the Son of God continues to be crucified.” The Divine Mercy Novena starts on Good Friday and ends the Saturday before the Feast of Mercy.
The 1662 Book of Common Prayer required a number of services, including the Seven Last Words from the Cross and a three-hour service that included Matins, Ante-Communion, and Evensong. From the 1600s until the 1900s, Lutherans did not have any rules for celebrating the Eucharist on Good Friday. Services were typically made more spectacular with music like Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.
Lutheran liturgical practice has brought back Good Friday as an important aspect of the Three Days, which include Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. On Good Friday, Lutherans usually do not eat the Eucharist and instead have a candlelit liturgy called a tenebrae service. The revised Roman Catholic liturgy is comparable to the Good Friday liturgy set out in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, the worship book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Many Lutheran churches have services on Good Friday, such as the Three Hours’ Agony, which is based on remembering Jesus’ “Seven Last Words” from the four gospels, a liturgy that focuses on the triumph of the cross, and a single biblical account of the Passion story from the Gospel of John. On Good Friday, Methodists fast and have a worship service that is based on the Seven Last Words from the Cross. People who are part of the Moravian Church have a custom of cleaning gravestones at Moravian cemeteries on Good Friday.