Religion 101

Religion 101


Good Friday 2013

posted by Reed Hall

Today (as I write, Friday, March 29, 2013), Christians worldwide are observing Good Friday — the Friday immediately prior to Easter Sunday.

Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ (traditionally believed to have occurred on a Friday), just as Easter Sunday commemorates the resurrection which Christians believe subsequently occurred (on the following Sunday).

On the calendar, Good Friday and Easter Sunday fall in close proximity each year to the Jewish holiday of Pesach or Passover. And, like Passover, these two closely connected Christian holidays do not fall upon the same dates each year. In other words, just because Good Friday happens to be on March 29 this year (2013) doesn’t mean that it’s always on March 29.

Last year, for instance, Good Friday was April 6, 2012; next year, by contrast, Good Friday will be April 18. It’s always the Friday before Easter Sunday, but Easter itself falls upon different dates in different years. Why? Put simply, because Easter is always the Sunday after the first full moon on or after March 21 (approximately the vernal or spring equinox in the northern hemisphere), which of course can and does vary each year.

This means that Easter Sunday (and Good Friday, which always precedes Easter by two days) may fall anywhere between late March and mid-to-late April.

Additionally, the matter of determining the date of Easter Sunday (and subsequently of Good Friday) each year is complicated further by the fact that different branches of Christianity utilize entirely different calendars in order to do so. Catholics and Protestants use the Gregorian (Western) calendar to identify March 21 and thereby subsequently determine Easter’s date; Eastern Orthodox churches, by contrast, rely instead upon the rather different Julian calendar, whose own March 21 usually falls on a different actual date than that of the Gregorian calendar’s March 21.

Depending upon the year, the Eastern Easter (and its own accompanying Good Friday) can be on the same dates as the Western Easter, or as much as over a month later.

The precise year in which the crucifixion and death of Jesus occurred is uncertain, but is estimated by many to have been circa 33 AD (or 33 CE).

The traditional Christian religious view is that Jesus Christ, understood by Christians to be the Son of God and a divine Savior, voluntarily died a self-sacrificial death in order to pay for, or atone for, all human sin. The New Testament gospel accounts paint a picture of Jerusalem’s Jewish leaders sentencing Jesus to death for the religious crime of blasphemy (for claiming to be divine).

Secular historians, by contrast, tend instead to view Jesus’s execution primarily as inflicted upon him by Jerusalem’s Roman overlords for the capital political crimes of treason and sedition. Death by crucifixion was Rome’s standard, and deliberately tortuous and humiliating, means of ridding itself of (and making examples of) troublesome political enemies and potential rabble-rousers — which is essentially how the Roman authorities viewed Jesus.

A traditionally somewhat somber holiday characterized by themes of mourning, Christians observe Good Friday in various ways, which may include fasting, repentance, reflection, prayer, and special church services.

 

 

 

 



Advertisement
Comments Post the First Comment »
post a comment

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

On Teaching About Judaism (Part Six)
Specifically Christian newcomers to the study of Judaism frequently puzzle over  why -- as they themselves often put it -- Jews "don't believe in Jesus." The reality is simply that the entire Jewish concept of who and what a Messiah actually is (or does) is just nothing like what Christians them

posted 4:45:00pm Jun. 29, 2013 | read full post »

On Teaching About Judaism (Part Five)
Aside from the several other frequent areas of confusion which sometimes puzzle newcomers to the study of Judaism (areas which I've been discussing in my last several blog entries), there is yet another hazy area that is often uniquely puzzling to specifically Christian newcomers: why, as they thems

posted 10:01:32pm Jun. 27, 2013 | read full post »

On Teaching About Judaism (Part Four)
As discussed in previous blog entries, a fairly sizable percentage of the American public seems to know surprisingly little about many of the basics of Judaism. In my own world religions courses, some students begin the semester with no real knowledge of the Jewish faith, and may even harbor some fa

posted 9:16:07pm Jun. 25, 2013 | read full post »

On Teaching About Judaism (Part Three)
As discussed in previous blog entries, a fairly sizable percentage of the American public seems to know surprisingly little about the basics of Judaism. In my own world religions courses, some students begin the semester with no real knowledge of the Jewish faith, and may even harbor some fairly com

posted 6:27:16pm Jun. 22, 2013 | read full post »

Midsummer (Litha)/Yule 2013
Tomorrow (Friday, June 21, 2013) is the date of the summer solstice within the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, by contrast, tomorrow will be the date of the winter solstice. Solstices have long been observed as important seasonal festivals in many traditional cultures. Accordingl

posted 5:05:38pm Jun. 20, 2013 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.