What is Good Friday and what does it mean for Christians around the world

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On Good Friday the Christians worldwide honor the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which happened two days before Easter Sunday. But what is Good Friday, and why is it an important holy day for Christians?

Palm Sunday observes the beginning of Holy Week, the series of Christian holy days leading up to Easter that honor the Crucifixion and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

When & what is Good Friday?

Good Friday, which always falls on the Friday before Easter, marks the second-to-last day of Holy Week. In 2024, Good Friday will occur on March 29. 

Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. According to Britannica, it is observed as a day of mourning, penance, and fasting.

Is Good Friday and Passover related?

The Jewish holiday of Passover, which celebrates the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, directly relates to the Christian holiday of Good Friday, according to Alvarez.

“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?

According to the professor, Passover celebrates when the Angel of Death “passed over” the homes of enslaved Israelites in Egypt, sparing their firstborn sons.

The Bible states that during the exodus, families painted lamb’s blood on their doors so God would know to pass over their homes.

Alvarez explains that this Passover story is why Christians call Jesus the “lamb of God.” The shared symbolism of the “blood of the lamb” connects the Passover and Crucifixion stories.

Christians believe God sacrificed his firstborn son, Jesus, so that through his blood, humanity would be protected from God’s wrath against sin. Alvarez adds that both the Passover and Crucifixion stories emphasize the power of sacrificing the firstborn and shedding blood in religion.

“Jesus is the firstborn, so the whole idea of the death of the firstborn is crucial,” said Alvarez.

Why Is Good Friday so dark?

According to Alvarez, this holiday may seem more depressing or sad to some than other holidays because of the Catholic commemoration of Christ’s Crucifixion.

“I think [it’s] to a level that some people might think is morbid,” said Alvarez.

 He explained that Catholics not only meditate on Jesus’ death but primarily focus on the suffering he endured in the events leading up to his crucifixion, which is what makes Good Friday such a mournful day for Catholics.

The professor states that Jesus’ suffering is central to Christianity as a whole.

“The suffering of Christ is central to the four Gospels,” said Alvarez. “Everything else is incidental.”

According to the professor, statues depicting Jesus and Catholic saints bleeding to emphasize their suffering are very common in churches in Spain and Hispanic countries, but not as prevalent in American churches.

On Good Friday do you fast?

 Roman Catholics are obliged to fast.

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

On Good Friday what do you eat?

During Lent, many Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays to honor Jesus’ flesh sacrifice on Good Friday, restricting any food containing flesh.

The Meat off-limits includes:

  • Poultry
  • Pork
  • Beef

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