What is Good Friday in the United Kingdom All About?
When you first think about it, Good Friday sounds like a counterintuitive name for a day that marks the crucifixion of Jesus, but the origin explains it better. There are a couple of explanations why it was named like that, and you can take your pick:
- Some people say that it comes from using “Good” is an adjective that is applied to that day, which is a synonym for “holy” in Old English.
- Some believe that it is from corrupting the word “God” in the same way that “Good Bye” originated from “God be with ye.” So they derived the name from ‘God’s Friday.’
- It is no doubt that the majority of Christians see the day as “good” because it sends the Easter message of Christ winning over sin, the devil, and death. The New Testament is known as the Gospel, which means ‘Good News.’
In addition, it is worth knowing that the confusion over Good Friday is concentrated on the North American and Western European Christians. The Eastern Orthodox Christians see it as the “Great and Hold Friday.” Other parts of the world know it as Holy Friday, in the majority of Latin nations. ‘Great Friday’ by Slavic peoples, “Friday of Mourning” in Germany and Norway it is “Long Friday.”
How to Celebrate Good Friday in the United Kingdom and Things to do
Good Friday is a religious public holiday in the UK. It is the last Friday before Easter. It is the day when Christians commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross. Therefore, all churches in different parts of the country have special services. Most of the time, the main service starts at midday and only up to 3 pm. The New Testament says that Jesus was crucified at 9 am, and when the skies began to get dark, Jesus cried out at 3 pm before he died.
Good Friday is always between the end of March and the end of April. It does not have an exact date every year since it depends on the moon’s position.
- Witness the Distribution of the Butterworth Charity – It happens outside the Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great. In the Victorian era, it was customary to have this service every Good Friday when some were given to 21 poor widows in Smithfield, and children who attended received buns. The buns are part of the ceremony, and they still perform it every year. Normally, the distribution starts at 11:30 am, and it is for 30 minutes.
- Thousands of Brits go to Trafalgar Square in London to witness the open-air passion play that depicts the crucifixion. The production lasts for 90 minutes, and it is completely free. This is a gift to visitors and Londoners.
- Reflect – Good Friday is a time to reflect on your sins and yourself. Christians honor how Jesus suffered and died for the sins of Christians. You can attend a service that will recount the painful crucifixion of Jesus, and some of them fast to show they are sorrowful. Churches make their altar bare and muffle their bells as their way of mourning.
How Good Friday in the United Kingdom is Celebrated
Just like many countries that observe Good Friday, those who are in the United Kingdom have customs and traditions. Some Christians attend a special church service on this day. Most churches get packed with people, especially at 3 o’clock, which is the time Jesus died. People gather on this day to pray and offer their service. Churches do not usually decorate on this holiday, unlike other Christian holidays. Some Christians do the Stations of the Cross and those who want to witness traditional events go to Victoria Street. They can participate in the crucifixion, which is normally an event where the procession is led by a man carrying a wooden cross that starts in Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey at noon.
For the people in the UK, they use this time to be with family and friends. This holiday gives a long weekend, so they also plan vacations on this day. They do not eat meat on this day because they believe that Christ sacrificed his flesh and died for our sins.
Venues and Special Events for Celebrating Good Friday in the United Kingdom
- The Widow’s Son Bun Ceremony in East London – In the early 19th century, there was a cottage where a widow and her son lived. He went to sea and promised his mother that he would be back for Easter. On Good Friday, his mother baked a hot cross bun and waited for her son’s return. He never came. Next year, she made another hot cross bun and still hoped that he would be back. She kept doing this until she passed away, but her son never returned. In 1840, a pub was built where the cottage used to be, and it was called the Widow’s Son so that he will recognize it if he comes back. Every year, a hot cross bun is baked, and they invite a Royal Navy member to place the bun in a net just above the bar. It is where they keep buns from the previous years.
- Crucifixion on Victoria Street – There is an annual religious service known as the Crucifixion on Victoria Street. It is in Westminster, and they depict what happened on the day of the crucifixion. The event is from 1:30 to 2 pm.
Good Friday in the UK is celebrated with other events aside from just going to the church praying. It might be a fun experience for you.