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 March 25th. 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. Some Nigerians may have questioned what Good Friday means and why it is a national holiday. So for the love of informing you, INFORMATION NIGERIA brings you 7 facts that would answer all your curiosity about the day…
– 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.”
– 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 also abstain from meat on Good Friday.
– In many parts of the world including Nigeria, Good Friday is a public/national holiday but only recently became one in Cuba – at least for 2012. In March, Pope Benedict XVI paid a visit to the Caribbean nation and asked President Raul Castro to make the special day, April 6, a public holiday. Castro reportedly gave the Pope his answer before the pontiff left the country. It is the first time Good Friday has been recognized by the government since religious holidays were abolished in the 1960s. Christmas was reinstated after Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1998. It is unknown if Good Friday will remain a national holiday in Cuba after this year.
– Congregations around the world reenact the crucifixion on Good Friday. In the Philippines, where Catholic fervor blends with indigenous beliefs, some devotees are actually nailed to crosses each year. The Catholic Church has condemned that ritual, but less gruesome reenactments are held in many other countries.
– Good Friday is also known by several other names, such as Easter Friday, Great Friday (in the Russian Orthodox Church), and Holy Friday. Another name was even thought to stem from the German, “Gottes Freitag” or “God’s Friday”. Although it may seem odd that such a sad event would be granted a name like “Good Friday,” Christian adherents believe that Jesus’s sacrifice for the eternal life of humanity is ultimately a positive message.
– Many religion scholars believe Jesus was crucified by nails driven into his wrists, not hands. French physician Pierre Barbet wrote a book called A Doctor at Calvary, in which he said humans are able to bear their own weight with the strength of their bones and ligaments within the wrists, but not with palms alone. Barbet posited that if Jesus was nailed only in his hands, he would have fallen to the ground. By the time of Jesus’s death, crucifixion had already been practiced for some 600 years and was a detailed procedure designed to be a very painful process for the victim.
If you didn’t know, now you do!!!