Friday, 25 March 2016

Why Is It "Good" Friday?

Good Friday. The day when Christians celebrate, with some solemnity, the crucifixion of Christ. Given the sorrows and pain of this even, it is a wonder that it is called Good Friday. The only real good of this painful day was that, as Christians believe, it lead to the resurrection of Christ the following Sunday.

It is another of the oddities of English which brings us to call this Good Friday. It is not known similarly in other languages. The French call it Sacred Friday. The Germans call it Sorrowful Friday. The Russians call it Passion Friday. So why do we English take such a sacred day, celebrated with such solemnity and seriousness, and call it "good"?

One might think it comes from the slow conversion of God to Good, as is thought to have happened with God Be With Ye, which, over the course of hundreds of years, became Good Bye. Would that this were true; it would help us understand such an anomaly. Unfortunately that doesn't explain all the other languages which came up with completely different terms, nor does it reflect that this day isn't dedicated to God, but to Jesus.

More likely the term "Good Friday" arose from the old English definition of the word "Good". There was a time in our linguistic history, a time nested deep in antiquity, when "good" meant "holy". For English speaking Christians, this was a good day, a holy day, a day to remember the struggles and trials of Christ as the was dragged, pushed, pulled, and even carried, along the Via Dolorosa to Calvary, there to be crucified. There was nothing good in this for Christ. Yet for Christians it remains one of the holiest days of their year, followed closely by Resurrection Sunday.

All I ask of each of you is this. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jew, Atheist, or whatever, please take a moment to reflect on the struggles that each of us bears, the difficulties that life gives to us all. Please take a moment to share one another's burden and remember the precariousness of life.

And please, don't ask me why it's called Easter, at least in English.


  1. Thanks for this interesting post...whatever the fact that Good Friday leads to gives me hope!

  2. I've taken to wishing people Happy Zombie Jesus Day. I usually don't get yelled at for it