What Is Good Friday?
Until the fourth century, the Last Supper, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ were all marked on the same day, the evening before Easter. But since that time, these three holy events have been recast over the span of three different days, with the Crucifixion being marked on Good Friday.
When Is Good Friday?
According the Jewish calendar, Jesus was crucified on the date of 15 Nisan, which translates to April 7. However, rather than affix a Good Friday celebration to that specific date, over the years it has come to be tied more loosely the luni-solar Jewish calendar and a flexible first day of Passover. In all cases however, Good Friday immediately precedes Easter Sunday.
History of Good Friday
It wasn't until the late Middle Ages that Roman Catholic churches began holding Good Friday masses. At the time, only the officiating priest took communion. It wasn't actually until much later, in 1955, that the church allowed churchgoers to join in that communion. The Anglican Church has also evolved a three-hour liturgical service on Good Friday, common now in most North American Protestant houses of worship.
Where Did the Name Good Friday Originate?
Although some have speculated that the name Good Friday is a derivation of God's Friday, there is no real scholarly evidence to substantiate that fact. Semantically speaking, it does seem odd to many people that a day during which parishioners are expected to remember the death of their Lord has anything to do with the word "good".
What Other Names Denote Good Friday?
In some parts of Europe, Good Friday is actually referred to the terms Great Friday or Holy Friday. In those cases, the designations hint at the fact that the death of Jesus was to be followed by a miraculous revival, and therefore the event of his death can be considered a great or holy presage to that miracle event. At many Roman Catholic Good Friday masses, Good Friday is also marked by the reading of "Stabat Mader", a 13th century devotional poem about Mary's vigil by the cross.