Good Friday, to an average Indian living in a Hindu-majority country, might not mean much more than a day off, leading to a long weekend. It might not even ring a bell to some. If you’re one of the people who’re not enlightened about this day which holds major importance in Christianity, read on!
Good Friday is a Christian holy day celebrated on the Friday before Easter to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ by the Romans, which for Christians was the beginning of the most momentous weekend in human history. Jewish religious leaders had condemned Jesus for claiming to be the son of God and were so agitated by his ‘acts’ that they took him to the Romans who sentenced him to death by crucifixion. According to the Bible, Jesus willingly suffered and died for all of humanity’s sins and was resurrected on Easter, the third day after his death, heralding his victory over sin and death, giving hope to the people that there’s always a new beginning.
Christ was mocked publically and tortured physically even before He was crucified, and was in an extreme state of pain throughout His ordeal. So why is His death day known as ‘Good’ Friday? According to a linguistic theory, ‘good’ may have referred to ‘holy’ in old English, which makes sense if we also take into account the other names for Good Friday - ‘Sacred Friday’ or ‘Passion Friday’. Some also believe it is a development of an older name, ‘God’s Friday’, while some think it relates to the fact that Jesus wouldn’t have been resurrected on Easter if not for dying on Friday before.
Believers attend church services and fast on this day. Churches muffle their bells as a sign of mourning and drape a black cloth over all crosses, photographs and statues to symbolize Christ’s death. The service for the Three Hours’ Agony is held, which includes special sermons and is held between noon and 3 pm (the latter is said to be the time Jesus died). Many churches also observe the day by re-enacting the trials Jesus went through, including the final hours of His life. Some countries hold parades, some fly handmade kites illustrating Jesus’ ascent to heaven, and some drape their churches in black. But all these people, united by faith, hope for a dawn that makes them forget about the pitch dark nights in their lives.