Some surprising things you (probably) didn’t know about Good Friday4 min read
Originally written on April 2019 – Updated 2023
Have you heard of the theory that it storms on Good Friday in the afternoon between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.?
The Christian belief is Christ’s crucifixion occurred on this day and, while this was happening, skies became stormy while the earth began to shake. Historians have documented this in Roman literature from that time period, and there is a belief that it has continued to storm on every Good Friday afternoon. A legend that has been carried on for generations.
Some say that if it rains on Good Friday, it will be sunny on Easter or, if it rains on Easter, it will rain for the next 6 Sundays.
But what else about Good Friday?
First, It doesn’t seem very good!
The earliest known use of “Guode Friday” is found in “The South English Legendary”, a text dating from around 1290. But it seems contradictory to call a day that is about death “good.” The thing is, despite Good Friday representing the anniversary of Jesus’s death, it’s also about the triumph of his rising again. According to some Christians, the name Good Friday is entirely appropriate because the suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the dramatic culmination of God’s plan to save his people from their sins. Good Friday is one of the main things people who celebrate Easter all acknowledge, but other countries actually celebrate the holiday differently: although it is condemned by the Church, there are people who, in an act of faith, nail themselves to a cross to re-enact the Crucifixion.
And what about the first Good Friday?
It’s celebrated in the spring, but what is its exact date? You’d have to go back a few thousand years to figure it out, and that’s exactly what someone did, using historical data starting with Tiberius’s reign in A.D. 14. The date of the first Good Friday was Friday, April 3.
There are countless traditions and rituals that surround Easter day from all over the world (here 10 bizzarre traditions in Europe), but also Good Friday. Some include a life-sized cross placed at the center of the altar in church that parishioners can then touch, then there are some church services that conclude with a bell tolling 33 times in succession to represent each year of Jesus’s life.
Others go fly a kite. Bermuda, India, is known for its quaint pastel houses and pink beaches, but also for a custom that dates back to the 19th century: flying a kite on Good Friday. Why? Perhaps besides having a lovely beach to fly it on, a kite is flown to symbolize the cross that Jesus died on and his ascension into heaven.
Elsewhere, for instance in Germany, dancing is outlawed. The day is referred to as Sourowful Friday, which reflects on the sadness of Jesus’s death.
Very different in Ecuador: in the historic district of Quito there are men, called cucuruchos, that dress up in purple robes and pointed masked headdresses and walk in a special procession on Good Friday. They are joined by other Ecuadorians who dress up like Christ and lug about a heavy wooden cross to partake in the Procession of the Penitents. The event draws about 250,000 people to each year. Parades are popular ways people celebrate Easter around the world.
And if you don’t like a Good friday there is a Good Wednesday instead. Not everyone celebrates Good Friday…on a Friday. Rather than the more traditional Friday observance, Wednesday becomes the “good” day for many Baptist and non-Protestant churches, because they use the date of the Jewish sacrifice of the Passover Lamb as their observance of the crucifixion.
For many Christians is time to fast or abstain from eating any type of meat on the day. Others are slightly more lenient, indulging in one full meal and two smaller ones.
And if you are in Ireland? There, a pub isn’t hard to find, but a pint on Good Friday might be. Alcohol is mostly missing from Irish routines on this one day. However, if you really need to get your drink on, you could head out to the train station, airports, or ferry ports, even if you might have to show your trip ticket in order to get your coveted pint.
Always in Ireland, according to a curious legend, eggs are not just about Easter. In every way.
If you collect eggs laid on Good Friday, they’ll never rot. It is said that some hold on to eggs for decades just to prove the myth. Another Irish tradition that isn’t as risky is to eat in an egg on Easter Sunday that was laid on Good Friday. Supposedly, you’ll reap health benefits all year long. This is another reason why eggs are associated with Easter, but this is another story….