Good Friday in Western Christianity Date in the current year: March 29, 2024

Good Friday in Western Christianity Good Friday, also known as Great Friday, Holy Friday and Black Friday, is observed by Western Christians two days before Easter. This holy day commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary (Golgotha).

Good Friday is part of Easter Triduum, the three-day period commemorating the passion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as portrayed in the four canonical gospels. Members of most Western Christian denominations observe this day with fasting and church services.

The rules of fasting depend on the denomination. For example, the Roman Catholic Church allows to have one full meal and two collations (smaller meals that together aren’t equal to a full meal). The meals should be simple and without meat, therefore many people eat fish on Good Friday.

In the Latin Church, the liturgy of the day consists of three parts – the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross, and Holy Communion – and includes the ceremonial unveiling of a cross or crucifix. There is no celebration of Mass on Holy Friday. In addition, the Stations of the Cross and the Acts of Reparations are often prayed. Most Protestant churches also hold special services on Good Friday.

To commemorate the Passion of Christ, a special service named the Three Hours’ Agony is held in some Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican churches. In Italy, Malta, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Spain, it is often followed by a procession with statues that represent the Passion of Christ.

Many countries with a strong Christian tradition have specific customs associated with Good Friday. In Malta, for example, Good Friday processions are held in different villages around the islands of Malta and Gozo. They are accompanied with the reading of the narrative of the Passion of Christ in some localities.

Other countries where Good Friday is commemorated with street processions are the Philippines and Spain. Some cities and regions of Spain are famous for their elaborate Holy Friday processions that are considered a major tourist attraction. The celebration of Holy Week in Valladolid was even recognized as a representation of intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO, and Holy Week in Zamora was declared Fiesta of International Tourist Interest of Spain in 1986.

In many countries of the Western world, as well as in 12 U.S. states, Good Friday is a public holiday. Government offices, post offices, banks, schools, and the majority of non-retail businesses are closed on the occasion. In a number of countries, Good Friday is a restricted trading day, so most stores there are closed all day or close earlier than usual.

Some countries even went as far as to adopt laws prohibiting certain acts (for example, dancing and horse racing) that are seen as profaning the solemn nature of the day. The Republic of Ireland used to have a ban on selling alcoholic beverages; a similar ban operates until 5 p.m. in Northern Ireland. In the Philippines, television broadcasts feature mostly religious content on Good Friday.

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Good Friday, Holy Friday, Christian holidays, religious holidays, Western Christianity