Good Friday – Rituals and Significance
Good Friday – Rituals and Significance
The Friday before Easter is the most solemn day for Christians, as Jesus was crucified for the sake of humanity on this day. It is celebrated to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus and His death at Calvary. The celebration related to Good Friday forms a part of the Paschal Triduum. The Catholic Church treats Good Friday as a fast day, which in the Latin Rite of the Church is understood as having only one full meal. The day is observed throughout the world as a festival of life and spirit.
Good Friday is celebrated in different ways throughout the world. There are different opinions on this day. Some feel sorrow for the sufferings and even give pain to them selves while others understand that Jesus offered his life so that many people could be saved. It was not that his life was taken but he himself offered his life. Usually, the holidays start from Good Friday and end on Easter Monday with rejoicing and celebrating Jesus’ raising after the death.
Roman Catholics include specific prayers and devotional songs on this day as they memorize this special day traditionally. Usually, in the evening Christ’s death is remembered with sad and solemn prayers and prayers of thanksgiving. Good Friday is a moveable feast and there are many explanations why Good Friday is termed ‘Good’.
Why is it called Good Friday?
The word ‘good’ was considered ‘holy’ in old English and so Good Friday is said Good. Also God had the last word through Christ’s death and people were, actually, redeemed by the death of Jesus. This is also why it is good about this day.
Catholic Christians above 18 years and under the age of 60 years observe fast during this day. They can have one complete meal and two small meals with nothing in between the whole day. Catholic above 14 years of age cannot eat meat or meat products on this day. Good Friday is a religious holiday in areas concentrated with Christians, but in some regions, it is a restricted holiday. It falls in the Holy Week on the Friday prior to Easter Sunday.
Earlier, during first-century churches used to observe every Friday as a special day but close to fourth-century churches started observing Friday preceding Easter Sunday as Good Friday, the day of Christ’s crucifixion. The day was known by the name of Holy or Great Friday, but later on, in sixth or seventh century Roman Churches had started calling it by the name of Good Friday so the day got its name.
Also, there are present two more origins of Good Friday. One of this may have been originated from the Gallican Church in Gaul which is a present-day France and Germany. Earlier name given was ‘Gute Freitag’ in German which means ‘Good or Holy Friday’. As per the second concept, the name might have originated from God’s Friday in which God, later on, has been replaced by Good.
Church Rituals on Good Friday
Church rituals generally start at midnight and 3 a.m. with specific prayers. To start with lessons from the scriptures are recited by the priest. Most common prayers offered are – The Litany of Humility, Prayer Before a Crucifix and Divine Mercy Novena. Then the prayers are offered in which the priest asks for God’s kindness and appeals to forgive mankind. Adoration of the Cross is followed by this at noon. In this ceremony representation of the True Cross is unveiled. Mass of the Pre-sanctified comes the next. Around 3 p.m. is the time of ceremony conclusion with the procession and then evening prayers are offered.
In most of the Protestant Churches, the ceremony begins at noon till 3 p.m, as this is the time when Jesus was crucified on the cross. What Jesus had spoken while on the cross, are his last seven phrases and in the Protestant Church sermons on these phrases are given. Hymns are sung and processions of the Stations of the Cross are also carried out.
In Britain Hot cross buns are the traditional food to be eaten on this day. Irrespective of all rituals and ceremonies Good Friday is a day to remember the sacrifice of God for human. It should always be remembered and we should follow the right path in life so as to honour this.
hroughout the world, Christian countries have chosen different ways to observe Good Friday. However, the main essence remains the same. Good Friday still marks the culmination of Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday, and it takes place two days before Easter Sunday. Good Friday services are aimed at allowing worshipers to experience some sense of the pain and humiliation that Christ experienced on this day, centuries ago.