Friday, March 21, 2008

Why is it called "Good" Friday?

We throw around phrases in our Christian life like, "Good Friday" and just assume that non-Christians, or even new Christians will understand what it means.

Last night as I was helping Joshua wash his hair (he still has this horrible ear infection), I asked if he knew what tomorrow was. He said, "Friday". I answered, "Yes, but there is more." He said, "Easter?" I said, again, "No." I told him it was Good Friday. He said, "What's that?" I told him it was the day Jesus was crucified. He looked at me with such innocence and said, "Then why is is called GOOD?" How that statement moved my heart -- and I'm sure Jesus' heart as well.

I explained to him that it was good in that because he died for our sins, we would one day be able to be with God for eternity and that had he not died, we would have been separated from God forever because of our sin. A simple explanation that sufficed for him and meant that now, he will always know what Good Friday is and not just look at it as a day off from school or work.

Because of my connections to people adopting from all over the world, I thought it would be interesting to look at what this day is called in other countries. Wikipedia states the following:

Good Friday is also referred to as Holy Friday. In the Holy Land it is also known as Great Friday. In German it is "Karfreitag", an Old German word meaning "Friday of lamentation", although this meaning is not obvious to speakers of modern German. In Armenia it is called "High Friday (Ավագ Ուրբաթ)". In Russia it is called "Passion Friday" (Страстной Пяток / Страстная Пятница). In Ethiopia it is called Friday of the Crucifixion (arib siqilat).

Great Friday: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece (Μεγάλη Παρασκευή / Megáli Paraskeví), Hungary, Macedonia, Malta (Il-Ġimgħa l-Kbira), Poland (Wielki Piątek), Lithuania, Romania, Serbia, [[Slovakia]Velky Piatok], Slovenia, and in the Eastern Orthodox Church generally; Sri Lanka (Maha Sikurada); Indonesia (Jumat Agung)

Holy Friday: Latin America, Spain (Viernes Santo), France (Vendredi Saint), Italy (venerdì santo), Portugal, Brazil (Sexta-Feira Santa), Philippines (Mahal na Araw or Biyernes Santo), Vietnam (Thứ sáu Tuần Thánh), Japan (聖金曜日)

Day of Christ's Suffering: Chinese-speaking areas (基督受難日)

Sad Friday: Arabic-speaking locals

Good Friday (English language) but Aoine Chéasta Passion Friday (Irish Language): Ireland

Some interesting customs from other countries that are associated with Good Friday are:
  • Day observed as a federal holiday in countries with a strong Christian influence such as Brazil, Canada, Germany and the UK -- EXCEPT in the U.S. where it a state holiday in some locations. (Isn't it ironic that a country founded on Christian principles is a country that doesn't recognize it as a federal holiday? Separation of church and state?)

  • Ireland prohibits the sale of alcohol

  • In Germany, comedic performances that include dancing are illegal on this day

  • In Muslim-majority India, Good Friday is a national holiday. Newspapers are not published on this day.

  • Eastern Orthodox Christians are not supposed to eat on this day and the next

  • In Bermuda, kites are flown. The shape of the cross for the kite symbolizes the cross on which Jesus died.

  • There is no horse racing in the UK on Good Friday.

  • In Louisiana Cajuns have a tradition to not dig in the dirt on Good Friday.

  • In many English speaking countries, hot cross buns are eaten on Good Friday with the cross on the top of the bun as a reminder of Jesus' cross.

However, you choose to remember Good Friday, I hope that it reminds you of the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross for you. Remember, even if you were the only person on the earth, He would have come to die for you.


1 comment:

Hilary Marquis said...


You nailed it again! Bring the focus right back to where it belongs. Thank you for your boldness. Happy Easter!