Christianity, the largest religion in the world, is believed to have originated from the life, teachings, death, and the subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ in the first century of the Christian Era. Good Friday and Easter are central to the Christian religion, its followers, their faith, symbols and the various institutions such as the church. Good Friday, in particular, has an intense connotation. This is the day Crucifixion of Jesus Christ is commemorated by the Christians. Right from the early days, Christians observe this as a day of penance, sorrow, and fasting.
Significance of Good Friday and Easter
Jesus Christ is believed to have sacrificed his life to atone for the mankind’s sin. He suffered willingly and accepted death through Crucifixion. On Good Friday, people remember his sacrifice. Two days later, Easter is celebrated, marking the Christ’s Resurrection from the dead. This also has significant religious implication, as it assures the future resurrection of all those who are connected to Christ through faith.
Why Good Friday is Called Good?
Despite the immense sadness that was brought upon the Christian world by the Crucifixion of Christ, the day associated with it is still called Good Friday. There are many theories behind it. Some call it Good because they consider that Christ’s death was no ordinary occurrence, but a way to bring salvation for mankind. Others are of the opinion that Good also means sacred and, since just two days later Jesus was resurrected, the day’s name is considered appropriate. Some also put forward the theory that originally the day was called ‘God’s Friday’, and over time it morphed into ‘Good Friday’. Some think the title is justified since the suffering of Jesus was God’s plan to save his followers from sins.
Story of Good Friday and Easter
According to the Synoptic Gospels, the last meal Christ took was Passover seder in the evening before he was crucified. This places Jesus’ date of death on the first day of Passover day: April 7 on Gregorian (Western) calendar; or the 15 Nisan of the Jewish calendar.
All the key events, ranging from his Last Supper to Resurrection, used to be observed on a single day – on Easter’s Eve, until the 4th century. However, over a period of time, a change seems to have occurred in reverencing the occasions. Now Christians do not commemorate Good Friday and Resurrection on a single day. They instead follow a flexible schedule for the events, to coincide the Last Supper with the Passover seder. This does not conform to the Gregorian solar calendar but is aligned with the Jewish lunisolar calendar. Despite the problems associated with this assumption, Good Friday and Easter are now observed accordingly. All the three events ( Last Supper, Good Friday, and Resurrection) were earlier commemorated separately, with Easter marking the Resurrection of Jesus. Now, Good Friday can fall anywhere between March 20 (Passover’s first possible date) and April 23.
While both Good Friday and Easter have a deep religious significance, today Easter is celebrated with multiple traditions. This includes Easter eggs and associated games, such as egg decorating and egg rolling. Children look forward to taking part in egg hunts where the task is to find the hidden decorated eggs. There’s another tradition where a character called Easter Bunny goes to people’s houses and delivers chocolate eggs and candy to children on the morning of the Easter holiday. The candies too come in a special basket called the Easter basket. Markets are flooded with greeting cards, gifts, and candies around this Sunday holiday.