You’ve probably heard of Good Friday, but do you know what it is? This guide will tell you everything about the meaning of Good Friday.
If you weren’t raised as a Christian — or simply didn’t pay close attention in Sunday school — you might not understand what Good Friday is or why it’s celebrated. Not to worry, though; we’re here to help.
In this article, we’re exploring Good Friday to tell you everything you need to know about the Christain holiday, including what it is and why it’s observed.
So, if you’ve ever wondered why your Christian bestie goes to mass on the Friday before Easter Sunday each year or what Lent is — keep reading. Here’s our complete guide on Good Friday.
What Is Good Friday?
Simply put, Good Friday refers to the day when Christians commemorate Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and death at Calvary.
That said, let’s not get ahead of ourselves; there is much more to the meaning of Good Friday! Not to mention, why is a seemingly bleak and dark event considered “good”?
Why Do We Call Good Friday… “Good?”
If you read through the Bible, it tells us the story of how Jesus was ordered to carry the very same cross he was to be crucified on, flogged, and ultimately sentenced to death. So, where is this alleged “good” in Good Friday?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the “good” here does not take on a literal sense. Here, good means “holy.” Due in part to this, “Good Friday” can also be observed as Great Friday, Holy Friday, and even at times Holy and Great Friday.
Note to the Reader: Some historians and linguists have also debated the theory that the “good” in Good Friday may have derived from once being called “God’s” Friday.
Regardless of any preconceived misconceptions, all Christians believe the “good” in Good Friday is entirely appropriate. It will always mark the dramatic, albeit terrible, culmination of God’s plan to save his people from their sins.
Are There Alternative Names for Good Friday?
Good Friday, alternatively called Feria VI in Parasceve – in the Roman Missal, Holy Friday in Romance Languages or the Holy and Great Friday – “he hagia kai megale paraskeue” in the Greek Liturgy.
All of these refer to the same day but did you also know that some Christian traditions do take a more literal approach to the holiday.? Yup, it’s true — one key example is that in German, the day is called “Sorrowful Friday,” or Charfreitag.
Fun Fact: The “Black Friday” we all know in the U.S. as the busiest shopping day of the year wasn’t used to reference this “shopping holiday” until the 1960s. Originally, the term Black Friday was an alternate name for Good Friday.
What Is the Etymology of Good Friday?
When we review a word’s etymology or origin, we get to see how the word’s definition and spelling has evolved and change over the course of time. As we study a word’s backstory, we’re given a better understanding of its meaning by watching all the twists, turns, and bumps a word has taken to get where it is in its present form.
With that in mind, the earliest recorded use of “guode Friday” later “Good Friday” is found in the South English Legendary, a text dating back to c. 1290.
Stemming from the adjective Good in Middle English “meaning sacred or holy,” this word comes from Old English gōd (pronounced with a long “o”) literally meaning excellent, valuable, fine, or desirable.
Other Terms Often Used in the Discussion of Good Friday
Below we have compiled a shortlist of the more common terms you will run into when diving into the meaning and history behind Good Friday:
- Crucifixion – The death of Jesus upon the cross (the “c” is to always be capitalized in this definition)
- Holy Thursday – Ascension day; aka the Thursday in Holy week, alternatively known as Maundy Thursday
- Maundy Thursday – Alternative way to say “Holy Thursday”
- Holy Saturday – The Saturday of Holy Week
- Easter – The annual Christian festival which is held in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ
- Holy Week – In reference to the week preceding Easter Sunday
- Lent – In reference to the annual season of penitence and fasting in the Christian religion (starting on Ash Wednesday and lasting until Easter), Lent is observed by Anglican, Roman Catholic, and a myriad of other churches
How Can Good Friday Be Used in a Sentence?
Now that you understand the history and deeper meaning behind Good Friday, let’s review how to properly use it in a sentence. Use your newfound knowledge to quiz yourself, and try using “Good Friday” in a sentence today!
Below you will find a few examples to help get you started:
I am not sure Peter was aware that Good Friday and Easter Monday do not reference actual dates as they do vary from year to year.
I met my best friend during Good Friday all the way back in 1987 if you can even remember such a time.
I know you have to get an oil change, but it’s Good Friday, and there isn’t going to be an open garage anywhere.
I was counting down the days to Good Friday, not that I was Christian, but it was to be my only day off for the month, so a “good” Friday it shall be.
Traditionally a day of penance and fasting, Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday. During this celebration, the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ is commemorated in the Christian Church.