Today is Good Friday: But What is Good Friday?


In the Christian tradition, Easter Sunday is a joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection. It’s also a happy time for many non-Christians, marked by colorful eggs, Easter bunnies and plenty of sweet treats. But just a few days before Easter falls a much more somber day: Good Friday. What is Good Friday? What is the meaning of Good Friday?

Good Friday is one of the most important days in the Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday. In short, Good Friday marks the crucifixion and death of Christ. On this day, many Christians reflect upon Christ’s sacrifice for their sins.

Here, we’re answering some questions you might have about this important day in the Christian tradition: What’s the meaning of Good Friday? When is Good Friday in 2024? And why is it called Good Friday?

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When is Good Friday 2024?

Good Friday is always the Friday before Easter Sunday. In 2024, Good Friday falls on Friday, March 29.

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What is Good Friday?

Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. It is a day of solemn reflection for followers of many Christian denominations, including Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans and Methodists. Good Friday takes place on the Friday before Easter, so its date changes from year to year.

Many Christians observe the day with prayer, and some with fasting. In the Roman Catholic tradition, believers mark Good Friday by praying the Stations of the Cross and reciting other devotional prayers.

On this austere day of commemoration, “church bells are silent. Altars are left bare,” explains Catholic Online. “The solemn, muted atmosphere is preserved until the Easter Vigil.”

Similarly, in the Anglican tradition, “the church remains stripped of all decoration,” according to The Church of England’s official website. “It continues bare and empty through the following day, which is a day without a liturgy [an official religious rite].”

Unlike the Christian holidays of Easter and Christmas, Good Friday has not become secularized, notes The Encyclopedia Britannica. It remains a somber day of religious reflection for Christians worldwide, and has been so for centuries.

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What is the meaning of Good Friday?

For many Christians, Good Friday is a time to remember the suffering and dying of Jesus before marking the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday. It’s a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by Christ to atone for humanity’s sins.

In his message for Lent 2020, Pope Francis told his followers that by contemplating Christ’s sacrifice, they can reflect on their own sins and find mercy.

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“Keep your eyes fixed on the outstretched arms of Christ crucified, let yourself be saved over and over again,” the Pope said. “And when you go to confess your sins, believe firmly in his mercy which frees you of your guilt. Contemplate his blood poured out with such great love, and let yourself be cleansed by it. In this way, you can be reborn ever anew.”

Why is it called Good Friday?

A day commemorating the crucifixion may not sound very “good,” so why is it called Good Friday? The origins of the name are still not entirely clear. However, many linguists agree that the name derives from an older usage of the word “good,” meaning “holy” rather than the modern sense of “good” as “something positive.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia has speculated that the name comes from “God’s Friday,” or Gottes Freitag in German. However, according to several linguists interviewed by Slate, this is not the case. They argue that the “holy” explanation is much more likely.

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What is the purpose of Good Friday?

Good Friday marks the beginning of the end of Holy Week, which is the last week of Lent. The last three days of Holy Week are known as the “Triduum,” or the “Three Days,” which commemorate Jesus’ trial, death and resurrection. Triduum begins on the evening of Holy Thursday or “Maundy Thursday” (the day before Good Friday) and ends the evening of Easter Sunday.

Good Friday is a bleak day for penance and remembering Christ’s sacrifice. However, it’s the very darkness of Good Friday that allows believers to feel joyful about the resurrection on Easter Sunday.

The Church of England outlines this dual purpose of Good Friday:

“There can be no adequate way of recalling the being dead of the Son of God, other than silence and desolation,” the Church says. “But within the silence there grows a sense of peace and completion, and then rising excitement as the Easter Vigil draws near.”

What is “Maundy” or “Holy Thursday”?

Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, is the day before Good Friday. Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Christ with his Apostles. The word “Maundy” is believed to originate from the Latin word for commandment, mandatum.

Today, several Christian denominations practice foot-washing rites on this day, echoing how Christ washed the feet of his disciples to teach them the importance of love and humility.

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