What is Good Friday? What the holy day means for Christians

 What is Good Friday? What the holy day means for Christians

Christians worldwide honor Good Friday, occurring just before Easter, as a pivotal day in their faith. 

This day, part of Holy Week preceding Easter Sunday, marks the commencement of events leading to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. 

Daniel Alvarez, an associate teaching professor of religious studies at Florida International University, underscores the significance of Good Friday, emphasizing its centrality to the Christian message. 

According to Alvarez, it symbolizes the belief that through Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death, believers are granted forgiveness for their sins.

When is Good Friday?

Good Friday is always the Friday before Easter. It’s the second-to-last day of Holy Week.

In 2024, Good Friday will fall on March 29.

What is Good Friday?

Good Friday is the day Christ was sacrificed on the cross. According to Britannica, it is a day for “sorrow, penance, and fasting.”

“Good Friday is part of something else,” Gabriel Radle, an assistant professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, previously told USA TODAY. “It’s its own thing, but it’s also part of something bigger.”

Are Good Friday and Passover related?

Alvarez emphasizes the direct connection between Good Friday and the Jewish holiday Passover, which commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.

“The whole Christian idea of atoning for sin, that Jesus is our atonement, is strictly derived from the Jewish Passover tradition,” said Alvarez.

How is that possible?

The professor explains that Passover commemorates the day when the “Angel of Death” spared the homes of Israelites enslaved by the Egyptians. He mentions that according to the Bible, during the exodus, families were instructed to mark their doors with lamb’s blood to safeguard their firstborn sons from God’s judgment.

Alvarez elaborates that this tradition is why Christians refer to Jesus as the “lamb of God.” He underscores the connection between the symbolism of the “blood of the lamb” in Passover and the belief that God sacrificed his firstborn son, Jesus, to protect humanity from divine wrath due to sin.

He emphasizes how the narratives of the exodus and the Crucifixion intertwine, highlighting the significance of the sacrifice of the firstborn and the shedding of blood in religious beliefs.

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Jesus being the firstborn is pivotal,” Alvarez remarks, explaining that the notion of sacrificing the firstborn, especially a son, stems from an ancient and “primitive” belief in the potent power unleashed by such sacrifices, capable of averting any form of adversity, including divine retribution.

Why is Good Friday so somber?

Alavarez discusses how some might perceive this holiday as more somber due to the Catholic tradition of commemorating the Crucifixion.

“I believe some may find it somewhat morbid,” Alavarez stated, emphasizing that Catholics reflect not only on Jesus’ death but also on the intense suffering he endured leading up to the Crucifixion, contributing to the day’s solemnity.

However, Alavarez highlights the significance of Jesus’ suffering within Christianity, stating, “The suffering of Christ is central to the four Gospels; everything else is secondary.”

He notes that the portrayal of Jesus and Catholic saints enduring suffering, often depicted using blood, is prevalent in Spanish and Hispanic countries but less common in American churches.

Do you fast on Good Friday?

Father Dustin Dought, the executive director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, previously told USA TODAY that Good Friday and Ash Wednesday are the two days in the year that Roman Catholics are obliged to fast.

“This practice is a way of emptying ourselves so that we can be filled with God,” said Doubt.

What do you eat on Good Friday?

Many Catholics do not eat meat on any Friday during Lent. Anything with flesh is off-limits. Daughter says this practice is to honor the way Jesus sacrificed his flesh on Good Friday.

Meat that is off limits includes:

  • Poultry
  • Pork
  • Beef

Instead, many Catholics will eat fish. According to the Marine Stewardship Council, this is allowed because fish is considered to be a different type of flesh.

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