Good Friday Traditions

Considered the day when Jesus Christ was brought before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, sentenced to death and crucified, Good Friday is a solemn day in the Christian calendar, usually accompanied by reverent observances in congregations throughout the world. It is always the Friday before Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Good Friday traditions vary around the globe, but all highlight the passion of Jesus Christ.

Throughout the world, Christian countries have chosen different ways to observe Good Friday. In the United States, private business may close for Good Friday, and some institutions, such as the stock market and some public schools, close. In Canada, Good Friday is a national holiday; private businesses, government offices and banks all close for the day. Other countries that regard Good Friday as a public holiday include Hong Kong, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.

Some countries enact restrictions on the types of activities that can be done on Good Friday. In Ireland and South Africa, no alcohol can be sold on Good Friday. In England, no horse races are allowed. In Germany, events that include public dancing and live theater are discouraged.

Different denominations of Christianity observe Good Friday in different of ways. Many Christians make and eat hot cross buns, which are small rolls marked on top with a cross. Many Protestant congregations attend a special worship service and try to abstain from lighthearted activities.

The Roman Catholic Church observes Good Friday with several long-standing traditions. Good Friday is a day of fasting and the altars of the churches are made bare, with no adornments such as candles. Services include the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion.

Perhaps the most intense observance of Good Friday, however, is found in the Philippines. Throughout this island nation, faithful Christians hold processions in the streets and enact plays that recreate the events of Jesus Christ's final day. Devoted Christians will allow themselves to be whipped and beaten, even nailed to a cross, to demonstrate their faithfulness. At about 3 p.m., most media outlets, such as television stations and radio stations, go off the air and many businesses close. Philippine Christians then remain in a prayerful and solemn state until Easter Sunday.

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