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British Life & Culture

Special Events and Celebrations

by Mandy Barrow

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Good Friday (Holy Friday)
Woodlands Junior School is in the south-east corner of England

In 2014 Good Friday is on 18 April. It is a UK Public Holiday

Stained glass windowcross What is Good Friday?

On Good Friday, Christians remember the day when Jesus was crucified on a cross.

cross When is Good Friday?

Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday (Easter Day).

The date of Good Friday changes every year.
See our main Easter page to find out why.

cross What was the date for first Good Friday?

The date of the first Good Friday will never be known

Did you know?
The Anglo-Saxon name for Good Friday was Long Friday, due to the long fast imposed upon this day.

Good Friday was not celebrated as the day Christ died until the 4th century A.D.

cross Why is it called Good Friday?

The name may be derived from 'God's Friday' in the same way that good-bye is derived from 'God be with ye'.

It is 'good' because the barrier of sin was broken.


cross What happened on Good Friday?

Jesus was arrested and was tried, in a mock trial. He was handed over to the Roman soldiers to be beaten and flogged with whips. A crown of long, sharp thorns was thrust upon his head.

Jesus was forced to carry his own cross outside the city to Skull Hill. He was so weak after the beating that a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was pulled from the crowd and forced to carry Jesus' cross the rest of the way.

Jesus was nailed to the cross. Two other criminals were crucified with him, their crosses were on either side of him. A sign above Jesus read "The King of the Jews."

According to the bible:

The third hour of the day - Jesus was nailed to the cross.
(9:00 am )

The Sixth Hour of the day - darkness covered the land
(12:00 noon)

The ninth hour of the day - the darkness left, and the Lord died
( 3:00 pm).

The hours in the bible are calculated from the first hour of the day, being 6 in the morning.

Christians believe that Jesus stood in our place.
His death paid the penalty not for his own wrong doings but for ours.

cross What happens on Good Friday today?

Since the early nineteenth century, before the introduction of bank holidays, Good Friday and Christmas Day were the only two days of leisure which were almost universally granted to working people. Good Friday today is still a public holiday in much of the UK. This means that many businesses are closed.

Some Christians fast (go without food) on Good Friday. This helps them remember the sacrifice Jesus made for them on the day of crucifixion.

Some Christians take part in a procession of witness, carrying a cross through the streets and then into church.

Special Church Service
Many churches hold a special service. This may be a communion service in the evening or a time of prayer during the day, especially around 3 o'clock as that is about the time of day when Jesus died.

Many Churches hold services lasting three hours. They may celebrate the Stations of the Cross, or take part in Passion plays and dramatic readings.

Churches are not decorated on Good Friday. In some churches, pictures and statues are covered over. It is seen as a time of mourning.

cross Traditional Food

It is traditional to eat warm 'hot cross buns' on Good Friday. Hot Cross Buns with their combination of spicy, sweet and fruity flavours have long been an Easter tradition.

Why do we eat Hot Cross Buns ?

The pastry cross on top of the buns symbolises and reminds Christians of the cross that Jesus was killed on.

hotcross buns
Hot Cross Buns

The buns were traditionally eaten at breakfast time, hot from the oven. They were once sold by street vendors who sang a little song about them.

"Hot cross buns, Hot cross buns,
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns."

Hot Cross Bun Ceremony

At the London Pub, The Widow's Son, a Hot Cross Bun Ceremony takes place each Good Friday. In the early 19th century, a widow who lived on the site was expecting her sailor son back home for Easter, and placed a hot cross bun ready for him on Good Friday. The son never returned, but undaunted the widow left the bun waiting for him and added a new bun each year. Successive landlords have kept the tradition going after the pub was opened.

Other traditional Good Friday food

It is traditional to eat fish on Good Friday instead of meat.

Good Friday Superstitions / beliefs
There are a number of superstitions relating to Good Friday.
Click here to visit our Easter Supersitions page.

Good Friday Traditions

Traditionally Good Friday was the day when everything was cleaned and whitewashed in preparation for Easter Sunday.

"I am a Christian and will be holding an easter-egg hunt in my garden on Good Friday, for all the children who attend my church. My garden backs onto the New Forest and is great fun for kids."
Jax Machin


Old Tradition on Good Friday

Cramp Rings

From the reign of Edward III to that of Mary Tudor, monarchs used to bless a plateful of gold and silver rings every Good Friday at the Chapel Royal, within St. James's Palace.

By rubbing the rings between their fingers, the royal touch was believed to cure cramp and epilepsy. The custom was abolished during the reign of Elizabeth I.

Click here to visit our Easter Supersitions page

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Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and 
are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.