16th Mar 2016
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Why is it called Good Friday?
crown of thorns on a dark background

In the English-speaking world, we know Good Friday as the day that occurs two days before Easter Sunday, and commemorates the day that, according to scripture, Jesus Christ was crucified.

Good Friday is called different things around the world, often prefixed with words such as Holy, Black, Great, Long and Silent.

So why is it called Good Friday? What’s so good about the day a man was nailed to a cross?

The strongest theory – most backed by linguists and historical evidence – is that in this instance, good is used to mean holy. Good Friday is good because to Christians, it marks the auspicious occasion of Jesus suffering and dying for the sins of humanity.

There are a few theories about the origin of the term good as holy, though there’s no single answer.

Some believe that the English adopted the phrase from the German phrase, gute Freitag (Good Friday). Another German-derived theory is that the term Good Friday comes from the word God, or God's Friday (Gottes Freitag). However, neither of these ideas hold, as in Germany, Good Friday is actually called Karfreitag – meaning Sorrowful or Suffering Friday.

What many people will find interesting is that the Friday before the resurrection of Jesus (Sunday morning) isn’t even mentioned as a day of observance in the Bible. In fact, the only day of the week even given a name in the Bible is the seventh day, which is called the Sabbath. Due to changing calendars over time, there’s some discrepancy about whether the Sabbath day is a Saturday or a Sunday. All we know is that Jesus was resurrected on the Sabbath.

While the historical origin of Good Friday remains unclear, we can assume with some confidence that the theological reason is because it marks the day, as horrible as it was, that led to the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday – and new life to everyone who has faith. 

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