Good Friday is observed the Friday before Easter. The Christian holiday, also known as Viernes Santo in Spanish, commemorates the passion, suffering, crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.
This year, the holiday falls on April 18. Many Christians will spend the day fasting, praying, repenting and meditating on Jesus’ Passion story. Good Friday falls in the middle of Holy Week. Maundy Thursday marks the day of the Last Supper and Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Below are answers to common questions about Good Friday.
What is the Good Friday story?
The holiday follows the accounts described in the Canonical gospels. The story begins when Judas the apostle betrays Jesus and is then arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is then brought to trial where he is found guilty of subverting the nation, opposing taxes to Caesar, making himself a king and claiming to be “God's son." While the Roman governor Pontius Pilate found him innocent, Pilate feared the crowds and let them decide Jesus’ fate -- death by crucifixion. Jesus was whipped, beaten, scourged and stripped naked. Jesus was led to Golgotha, where he was nailed to the cross. Six hours passed before he died.
Why is the holiday called Good Friday?
There are several theories behind the name of the Christian holiday. According to the Baltimore Catechism, the word “good” may signify how Jesus’ death “showed His great love for man, and purchased for him every blessing.”
Another theory points to how the word “good” may refer to "a day or season observed as holy by the church" in context of the Passion story. The first reference to Good Friday comes from a text written around 1290 that refers to the day as “guode friday.”
How is Good Friday celebrated?
Many Christians will celebrate Good Friday by attending church services that read the Gospel accounts of the Passion story. There are also processions that replicate Jesus’ journey carrying the cross through Jerusalem to his site of crucifixion
Good Friday is also one of the two days where Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are obliged to fast. Fasting is defined by eating only one full meal. Catholics must also abstain from meat.