MARCH 29 – GOOD FRIDAY before Easter

MARCH 29, 2013* - Good Friday


Good Friday, also called Holy Friday, Black Friday, or Great Friday, is a holiday observed primarily by adherents to Christianity commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and often coincides with the Jewish observance of Passover.

Based on the scriptural details of the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus, the Crucifixion of Jesus was most probably on a Friday. The estimated year of Good Friday is AD 33, by two different groups, and originally as AD 34 by Isaac Newton via the differences between the Biblical and Julian calendars and the crescent of the moon. A third method, using a completely different astronomical approach based on a lunar Crucifixion darkness and eclipse model (consistent with Apostle Peter's reference to a "moon of blood" in Acts 2:20) arrives at the same date, namely Friday April 3, AD 33.

Biblical accounts

According to the accounts in the Gospels, Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by the Temple Guards through the guidance of his disciple, Judas Iscariot. Judas received money (30 pieces of silver) (Matthew 26:14-16) for betraying Jesus and told the guards that whomever he kisses is the one they are to arrest. Jesus is brought to the house of Annas, who is the father-in-law of the current high priest, Caiaphas. There he is interrogated with little result, and sent bound to Caiaphas the high priest, where the Sanhedrin had assembled (John 18:1-24).

Conflicting testimony against Jesus is brought forth by many witnesses, to which Jesus answers nothing. Finally the high priest adjures Jesus to respond under solemn oath, saying "I adjure you, by the Living God, to tell us, are you the Anointed One, the Son of God?" Jesus testifies in the affirmative, "You have said it, and in time you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty, coming on the clouds of Heaven." The high priest condemns Jesus for blasphemy, and the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus concurs with a sentence of death (Matthew 26:57-66). Peter also denies Jesus three times during the interrogations. Jesus already knew that Peter would deny him three times. See the article Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus regarding the two trials, one at night, the other in the morning and how their timing may affect the day of Good Friday.

In the morning, the whole assembly brings Jesus to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, under charges of subverting the nation, opposing taxes to Caesar, and making himself a king (Luke 23:1-2). Pilate authorizes the Jewish leaders to judge Jesus according to their own Law and execute sentencing; however, the Jewish leaders reply that they are not allowed by the Romans to carry out a sentence of death (John 18:31).

Pilate questions Jesus, and tells the assembly that there is no basis for sentencing. Upon learning that Jesus is from Galilee, Pilate refers the case to the ruler of Galilee, King Herod, who was in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Herod questions Jesus but receives no answer; Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate tells the assembly that neither he nor Herod have found guilt in Jesus; Pilate resolves to have Jesus whipped and released (Luke 23:3-16).

It was a custom during the feast of Passover for the Romans to release one prisoner as requested by the Jews. Pilate asks the crowd whom they would like to be released. Under the guidance of the chief priests, the crowd asks for Barabbas, who had been imprisoned for committing murder during an insurrection. Pilate asks what they would have him do with Jesus, and they demand, "Crucify him" (Mark 15:6-14). Pilate's wife had seen Jesus in a dream earlier that day; she forewarns Pilate to "have nothing to do with this righteous man" (Matthew 27:19).

Pilate has Jesus flogged, then brings him out to the crowd to release him. The chief priests inform Pilate of a new charge, demanding Jesus be sentenced to death "because he claimed to be God's son." This possibility filled Pilate with fear, and he brought Jesus back inside the palace and demanded to know from where he came (John 19:1-9).

Coming before the crowd one last time, Pilate declares Jesus innocent, washing his own hands in water to show he has no part in this condemnation. Nevertheless, Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified in order to forestall a riot (Matthew 27:24-26). The sentence written is "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." Jesus carries his cross to the site of execution (assisted by Simon of Cyrene), called the place of the Skull, or "Golgotha" in Hebrew and in Latin "Calvary". There he is crucified along with two criminals (John 19:17-22).

Jesus agonizes on the cross for six hours. During his last 3 hours on the cross, from noon to 3pm, there is darkness over the whole land. With a loud cry, Jesus gives up his spirit. There is an earthquake, tombs break open, and the curtain in the Temple is torn from top to bottom. The centurion on guard at the site of crucifixion declares, "Truly this was God's Son!" (Matthew 27:45-54)

Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin and secret follower of Jesus, who had not consented to his condemnation, goes to Pilate to request the body of Jesus (Luke 23:50-52). Another secret follower of Jesus and member of the Sanhedrin named Nicodemus brought about a hundred pound weight mixture of spices and helped wrap the body of Christ (John 19:39-40). Pilate asks confirmation from the centurion whether Jesus is dead (Mark 15:44). A soldier pierced the side of Jesus with a lance causing blood and water to flow out (John 19:34), and the centurion informs Pilate that Jesus is dead (Mark 15:45).

Joseph of Arimathea takes the body of Jesus, wraps it in a clean linen shroud, and places it in his own new tomb that had been carved in the rock (Matthew 27:59-60) in a garden near the site of crucifixion. Nicodemus (John 3:1) also came bringing 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes, and places them in the linen with the body of Jesus, according to Jewish burial customs (John 19:39-40). They rolled a large rock over the entrance of the tomb (Matthew 27:60). Then they returned home and rested, because at sunset began Shabbat (Luke 23:54-56). On the third day, Sunday, which is now known as Easter Sunday (or Pascha), Jesus rose from the dead.

Many Protestant communities hold special services on this day as well. In the German Lutheran tradition from the 16th to the 20th century, this was the most important holiday, and abstention from all worldly works was expected. Lutheranism had no restrictions on the celebration of Holy Communion on Good Friday; on the contrary, it was a prime day on which to receive Holy Communion, and services were often accentuated by special music such as the St. Matthew Passion by Lutheran Johann Sebastian Bach. Mid-20th century Lutheran liturgical practice moved away from Holy Communion celebrated on Good Friday, and among the major North American Lutheran bodies today, Holy Communion may not be celebrated on Good Friday, but rather on Maundy Thursday. However, the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod in its official service book, Lutheran Service Book, does permit the offering of the Eucharist also on Good Friday. Moravians hold a Lovefeast on Good Friday as they receive Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday. The Methodist Church also commemorates Good Friday with a service of worship, often based on the Seven Last Words from the Cross.

Some Baptist, Pentecostal, many Sabbatarian and non-denominational churches oppose the observance of Good Friday, instead observing the Crucifixion on Wednesday to coincide with the Jewish sacrifice of the Passover Lamb (which Christians believe is an Old Testament pointer to Jesus Christ). A Wednesday Crucifixion of Jesus Christ allows for Christ to be in the tomb ("heart of the earth") for three days and three nights as he told the Pharisees he would be (Matthew 12:40), rather than two nights and a day if he had died on a Friday.

Associated customs

In many countries with a strong Christian tradition such as Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, the Philippines, Mexico, Venezuela, the countries of the Caribbean, Germany, Malta, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, the day is observed as a public or federal holiday.

In many English-speaking countries, such as Singapore, most shops are closed for the day and advertising from television and radio broadcasts is withdrawn to some degree.

In Canada, banks and government offices (at all levels) and public sector businesses are closed, along with most private sector businesses, except in Quebec where government offices and schools are closed but the majority of private sector businesses (except banks) remain open.

In Hong Kong, all businesses and government offices are closed for a public holiday.

In the United States, Good Friday is not a government holiday at the federal level; individual states and municipalities may observe the holiday. Private businesses and certain other institutions may close or not for Good Friday, according to their preferences. The stock market is closed on Good Friday. However, the vast majority of businesses are open on Good Friday. Some public schools may incidentally be closed on Good Friday because of the proximity of secular "spring break" holidays. The postal service operates, and banks regulated by the federal government do not close for Good Friday.

Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country, prohibits all alcohol from being sold on Good Friday. Banks and public institutions are closed on this day but it is not an official bank holiday (i.e. public holiday), so many offices and other workplaces remain open. All pubs and many restaurants in Ireland close for the day – it is similar to Christmas Day in this regard. This tradition has come under criticism of late, with secular businesses claiming a loss in earnings by way of a religious festival.

In Germany, comedic theater performances and events which include public dancing are illegal on the day (although this restriction is enforced unevenly); cinemas and television are not affected, although many TV channels show religious material on the day. The enforcement of these rules even on non-Christians has met with increased opposition in the last decade.

In South Africa, the government regulates the opening of businesses and entertainment outlets on this day (as with Christmas Day). All government offices, schools and certain businesses are closed on Good Friday by law. The buying and selling of alcohol is prohibited.

In India, Good Friday is a Central Government as well as a State holiday, although Stock Markets are usually closed. Some other businesses are also closed in states where Christians are in the majority like Assam, Goa, and Kerala (higher percentage of Christians, even though not the majority) but the majority of businesses are open on Good Friday in rest of the country. Most schools are closed on Good Friday.

In Muslim-majority Indonesia, Good Friday is a national holiday. All government offices, schools and certain businesses are closed on Good Friday by law and many newspapers choose not to publish on this day. Public holiday is also observed in Singapore and in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.

Eastern Orthodox Christians are not supposed to eat at all on this day and the next, while the Roman Catholic Church observes fasting and abstinence for this day as well as Ash Wednesday.

In many English speaking countries, hot cross buns are eaten.

In Bermuda, kites are flown. They are often handmade with wooden sticks, colorful tissue paper, glue, and string. The shape of the kite and the use of wood is meant to symbolize the cross that Jesus died on. Also, the kite flying in the sky symbolizes his ascension to heaven.

Traditionally, Roman Catholics are to abstain from eating meat every Friday of the year as penance. Nowadays, this is only a requirement during Fridays of Lent; during Fridays of the rest of the year, other methods of penance may be followed, for example an extra prayer. As a modern tradition, many Roman Catholics (and members of other Christian denominations as well) will eat fish and vegetables on Good Friday.

There is no horse racing on Good Friday in the UK. However, in 2008, betting shops opened for the first time on this day. The BBC has for many years introduced its 7 am News broadcast on Radio 4 on Good Friday with a verse from Isaac Watts' hymn "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross".

Calculating the date

Good Friday is the Friday before Easter, which is calculated differently in Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity (see Computus for details). Easter falls on the first Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, the full moon on or after 21 March, taken to be the date of the vernal equinox. The Western calculation uses the Gregorian calendar, while the Eastern calculation uses the Julian calendar, whose 21 March now corresponds to the Gregorian calendar's 3 April. The calculations for identifying the date of the full moon also differ. See Easter Dating Method (Astronomical Society of South Australia).

In Eastern Christianity, Easter can fall between March 22 and April 25 on Julian Calendar (thus between April 4 and May 8 in terms of the Gregorian calendar, during the period 1900 and 2099), so Good Friday can fall between March 20 and April 23, inclusive (or between April 2 and May 6 in terms of the Gregorian calendar). (See Easter.)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


*Good Friday will be celebrated as follows:

                   2013 – March 29
                   2014 – April 18