Orthodox Good Friday is celebrated Friday before Easter according to the Julian calendar and falls on May 3 this year. While many Western churches follow the Gregorian calendar while celebrating events, Orthodox Churches retained the Julian calendar. Thus, they observe Good Friday and celebrate Easter at a much later date than the Western churches. This day is also known as Great Friday, Holy Friday, and Holy and Great Friday.
History of Orthodox Good Friday
Orthodox Good Friday is not a public holiday, however, it has been observed by the Orthodox Christian Church for a while. In the early days, Good Friday was called “Pascha of the Cross” as it was the beginning of that Passover. The very first Good Friday was observed on Friday, April 3, 33 A.D.
The majority of the Orthodox community is situated in Russia, however, Orthodox Good Friday is observed all across the globe. Some Orthodox Churches in the United States hold evening liturgies throughout Holy Week, along with special afternoon liturgies for children on Good Friday.
Orthodox Good Friday goes by many other names and it is a strict day of fasting for Greek Orthodox Christians in the United States. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America celebrates the Passion of Christ, or the last moments of his life according to the New Testament in the Bible, on Good Friday. Some Orthodox Churches begin observing it on Thursday night when the 12 sections of the Gospels are read and some churches have a Good Friday liturgy in the evening. The readings are typically stories of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. Many priests remove icons of Jesus Christ from the crosses and wrap them in linen to reenact the burial rites. Moreover, some Bulgarian churches allow people to pass under a table in the middle of the church to light a candle after the ringing of the Church bell. They say this symbolizes the washing away of one’s sins.
Orthodox Good Friday timeline
The Council of Nicaea establishes the Easter date for churches according to the Gregorian calendar, however, Orthodox Churches choose to follow the Julian calendar.
‘Goude Friday’ is mentioned in “The South English Legendary,” a hagiographic work.
The Gregorian calendar is introduced to the world for the first time.
The World Council of Churches proposes a reform to solve the Easter date difference between Western and Orthodox Churches, albeit in vain.
Orthodox Good Friday FAQs
What is the difference between Easter and Orthodox Easter?
While the day marks the same event in history, they are observed on different days as one follows the Gregorian calendar and Orthodox churches follow the Julian calendar.
Why is Good Friday called Good Friday?
‘Good Friday’ comes from the obsolete sense ‘pious,’ or ‘holy’ of the word ‘good.’ Less common examples of expressions based on this obsolete sense of ‘good’ include ‘the good book’ for the Bible, ‘good tide’ for ‘Christmas’ or Shrovetide, and ‘Good Wednesday’ for the Wednesday in Holy Week.
What do Greek Orthodox do on Good Friday?
Families attend a church service, they read gospels and sing hymns, a strict fast is observed, and they take time for reflection and introspection.
How to Observe Orthodox Good Friday
Observe a fast
Unless you have medical concerns, you can observe a strict fast on Orthodox Good Friday to mourn the crucifixion of Jesus Christ
Attend a church service
Attend a nearby church service with your family and partake in liturgies, gospel readings, and worship.
Do a good deed
Orthodox Good Friday is a day of mourning and you can observe it by helping someone in need, either by donating clothes, preparing meals, or helping out at a local shelter.
5 Interesting Facts About Good Friday Traditions
Ban on activities in Germany
In Germany, TV, performances, plays in theatres, and public dances are banned on Good Friday.
Kite flying in Bermuda
Many countries have their own traditions, however, the citizens of Bermuda fly kites on Good Friday to commemorate the resurrection.
Alcohol ban in Ireland
In Ireland, which is a major Catholic country, the sale of any type of alcohol is banned on Good Friday.
Intense parade in Ecuador
n Quito, Ecuador, there is a Procession of the Penitents that draws a crowd of over 250,000 people, in which men, called ‘cucuruchos,’ walk through the streets dressed up in purple robes and pointed hoods and are joined by impersonators of Jesus Christ who carry enormous wooden crosses.
Reenacting the crucifixion in Philippines
In the Philippines, volunteers are actually nailed to the cross to recreate the crucifixion of Jesus and they remain on the cross till they believe that their sins are cleansed.
Why Orthodox Good Friday is Important
It is a day of self-examination
Orthodox Good Friday encourages people to spend time alone and reflect on their deeds and actions, and confess if required. It can help to bring about clarity and purity in the mind and increase spiritual well-being.
It honors the sacrifices of Jesus Christ
Orthodox Good Friday is a solemn day to commemorate the time leading up to and of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This day is important to honor the sacrifices he made for his people.
It upholds the tradition and culture
This day upholds the traditions of the Orthodox Church. They follow the Julian calendar and have slightly different customs
Orthodox Good Friday dates