Good Friday, also called Holy Friday, Great Friday or Black Friday:
is the Friday preceding Easter Sunday ("Pascha"). It commemorates the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Golgotha."
"Based on the scriptural details of the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus, and scientific analysis, the Crucifixion of Jesus was most probably on a Friday, but see the articles on Crucifixion of Jesus and Chronology of Jesus for discussions on the exact date of Good Friday, which in recent years has been estimated as AD 33, by two different groups of scientists, and originally as AD 34 by Isaac Newton via the differences between the Judean and Julian calendars and the crescent of the moon.'
Calculating the date:
"Good Friday is the Friday before Easter, which is calculated differently in Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity (see Computus for details). Easter falls on the first Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, the full moon on or after 21 March, taken to be the date of the vernal equinox. The Western calculation uses the Gregorian calendar, while the Eastern calculation uses the Julian calendar, whose 21 March now corresponds to the Gregorian calendar's 3 April. The calculations for identifying the date of the full moon also differ. See Easter Dating Method (Astronomical Society of South Australia)."
"Because Easter in Western Christianity can fall between March 22 and April 25 on the Gregorian calendar, Good Friday can fall between March 20 and April 23, inclusive. In Eastern Christianity, Easter can fall between March 22 and April 25 on Julian Calendar (thus between April 4 and May 8 in terms of the Gregorian calendar, during the period 1900 and 2099), so Good Friday can fall between March 20 and April 23, inclusive (or between April 2 and May 6 in terms of the Gregorian calendar). (See Easter.)
"In many countries with a strong Christian tradition such as Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, the countries of the Caribbean, Germany, Malta, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, the day is observed as a public or federal holiday."
"In many English-speaking countries, most shops are closed for the day and advertising from television and radio broadcasts is withdrawn to some degree."
"In Canada, banks and government offices (at all levels) and public sector businesses are closed, along with most private sector businesses, except in Quebec where government offices and schools are closed but the majority of businesses remain open."
"In Hong Kong, all businesses and government offices are closed for a public holiday."
"In the United States, Good Friday is not a government holiday. Private businesses and certain other institutions may close or not for Good Friday, according to their preferences. The stock market is closed on Good Friday. However, the vast majority of businesses are open on Good Friday. Some public schools may incidentally be closed on Good Friday because of the proximity of secular "spring break" holidays. The postal service operates, and banks regulated by the federal government do close for Good Friday."
"Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country, prohibits all alcohol from being sold on Good Friday. Banks and public institutions are closed on this day, however it is not an official bank holiday (i.e. public holiday), so many offices and other workplaces remain open. All pubs and many restaurants in Ireland close for the duration of the day – it is similar to Christmas Day in this regard. This tradition has come under criticism of late, with secular businesses claiming a loss in earnings by way of a religious festival. Many people cross the border to Northern Ireland to shop or visit pubs or restaurants."
"In Germany, comedic theater performances and events which include public dancing are illegal on the day (although this restriction is enforced unevenly); cinemas and television are not affected, although many TV channels show religious material on the day. The enforcement of these rules even on non-Christians has met with increased opposition in the last decade."
"In South Africa, the government regulates the opening of businesses and entertainment outlets on this day (as with Christmas Day). All government offices, schools and certain businesses are closed on Good Friday by law. The buying and selling of alcohol is prohibited."
"In India, Good Friday is a Central Government as well as a State holiday, although Stock Markets are usually closed. Some other businesses are also closed in states where Christians are in the majority like Assam, Goa, and Kerala (higher percentage of Christians, even though not the majority) but the majority of businesses are open on Good Friday in rest of the country. Most schools are closed on Good Friday."
"In Muslim-majority Indonesia, Good Friday is a national holiday. All government offices, schools and certain businesses are closed on Good Friday by law and many newspapers choose not to publish on this day. Public holiday is also observed in Singapore and in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak."
"Eastern Orthodox Christians are not supposed to eat at all on this day and the next, while the Roman Catholic Church observes fasting and abstinence for this day as well as Ash Wednesday."
"In Bermuda, kites are flown. They are often handmade with wooden sticks, colorful tissue paper, glue, and string. The shape of the kite and the use of wood is meant to symbolize the cross that Jesus died on. Also, the kite flying in the sky symbolizes his ascension to heaven."
"Traditionally, Roman Catholics are to abstain from eating meat every Friday of the year as penance. Nowadays, this is only a requirement during Fridays of Lent; during Fridays of the rest of the year, other methods of penance may be followed, for example an extra prayer. As a modern tradition, many Roman Catholics (and members of other Christian denominations as well) will eat fish and vegetables on Good Friday."
"There is no horse racing on Good Friday in the UK. However, in 2008, betting shops opened for the first time on this day. The BBC has for many years introduced its 7 am News broadcast on Radio 4 on Good Friday with a verse from Isaac Watts' hymn "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross"."
"In Sweden, Good Friday - as well as Easter Monday - is a national holiday. Some shops are open a few hours in the morning. People not particularly religious use Good Friday as a day of meeting relatives. The biggest community, Church of Sweden, does not celebrate Mass and therefore no Eucharist is distributed. Linked below is an English description of the Good Friday service. "
Other Protestant traditions
"Many Protestant communities hold special services on this day as well. In the German Lutheran tradition from the 16th to the 20th century, this was the most important holiday, and abstention from all worldly works was expected. Lutheranism had no restrictions on the celebration of Holy Communion on Good Friday; on the contrary, it was a prime day on which to receive Holy Communion, and services were often accentuated by special music such as the St. Matthew Passion by Lutheran Johann Sebastian Bach. Mid-20th century Lutheran liturgical practice moved away from Holy Communion celebrated on Good Friday, and among the major North American Lutheran bodies today, Holy Communion is not celebrated on Good Friday, but rather on Maundy Thursday. Moravians hold a Lovefeast on Good Friday as they receive Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday. The Methodist Church also commemorates Good Friday with a service of worship, often based on the Seven Last Words from the Cross."
"Some Baptist, Pentecostal, many Sabbatarian and non-denominational churches oppose the observance of Good Friday, instead observing the Crucifixion on Wednesday to coincide with the Jewish sacrifice of the Passover Lamb (which Christians believe is an Old Testament pointer to Jesus Christ). A Wednesday Crucifixion of Jesus Christ allows for Christ to be in the tomb (heart of the earth) for three days and three nights as he told the Pharisees he would be (Matthew 12:40), rather than two nights and a day if he died on Friday."
Have you ever wished for a classic Easter special to show your kids? Here Comes Peter Cottontail is a Rankin & Bass production that bears a marked similarity to the beloved Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.