Many of us are familiar with Good Friday as the beginning of the lengthy Easter weekend which includes, following the usual weekend days, Easter Monday. However, perhaps not all of us are familiar with the religious relevance of the date or the great opportunities that can come our way at the same time as Good Friday.
Here is a more in-depth look at the history of Good Friday and how you can spend it in a manner that is especially fitting and enjoyable.
Why do we call it “Good Friday”?
The celebration of Good Friday springs from commemoration of the date of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and death at Calvary. According to accounts of the Gospel, this date is when Judas betrayed Jesus, who was then sentenced to death.
Given these reported events, it might initially be surprising that Christians accept “Good Friday” as the name of the day commemorating Christ’s death. However, several theories have been proposed with the aim of helping to clear confusion.
Experts have put forward the idea that the “good” in “Good Friday” was intended to mean holy or pious. It has also been speculated that “Good” was just an alternative spelling of “God”, making the day effectively “God’s Friday”. Another theory suggests that Christ’s tragic crucifixion brought “good” to his followers.
Whatever the true reason for the name, Christians have always yearly set aside a Friday on which to “unite their sufferings”. Christians often refrain from eating meat on this day.
There’s something fishy going on… and there isn’t
There are various ways that people in the UK tend to spend Good Friday. Regular attendees of church might, on the day, attend a special church service. Other common Good Friday pastimes include gardening and, unsurprisingly given the length of the Easter Weekend, embarking on a getaway. However, the “no meat” rule followed by many Catholics on Good Friday has led to the emergence of a particularly distinctive tradition: eating fish.
Some people might think that forgoing chocolate eggs in favour of fish may seem like a different kind of fishy. However, there’s nothing strange about it; in fact, millions of people tuck into this type of seafood on Good Friday. The Good Friday tradition of eating fish is actually much older than that of chocolate eggs. It started due to Christians remembering the Passion by choosing to sacrifice meat due to its associations with celebrations and feasts. So, why did they not deem fish to be meat?
This is because of Church law which defined meat as originating only from animals living on land – and birds. Fish, however, was not included in the same classification. Historically, meat was often eaten only on celebratory occasions; however, fish was considered more of an everyday delicacy, as the majority of people were fishermen.
Therefore, you could opt to spend your Good Friday in a coastal setting like Seaton Carew or Redcar and nibbling fish and chips. Now, that would be good in a different sense of the word.