Today is Good Friday, with many Christians around the world will observe the day that Jesus was crucified on the cross. Holy Week, or the week leading up to Easter, begins with Palm Sunday and ends with Holy Saturday, however each day marks a different celebration in the liturgical calendar.
For many Christians, Good Friday is a day of fasting, prayer and contemplation as they remember Jesus’s Crucifixion. Many Church services are held in the afternoon or midday to 3pm to remember the hours when Jesus was crucified on the cross.
Taking a look at Good Friday traditions around the world
Each country has its own way of commemorating Good Friday.
Various parishes in Malta and Gozo organize Good Friday processions with the streets turning into open-air theatres where they pay tribute to their Catholic beliefs. On Maundy Thursday, people flock to the Seven Churches Visitation while enthusiasts exhibit Last Supper salt and rice displays and sets of miniature statues. The Solemn Commemoration of the Passion and death of the Lord will start at 3.30pm on Friday.
Many Italians choose to fast or eat fish on Good Friday. Pope Francis will lead the ‘Way of the Cross’, the largest event in Rome, during which those gathered will visit each of the 14 ‘stations of the cross’ each symbolizing a part of Jesus’ passion and death. The procession begins at the Colosseum and ends at Palatine Hill.
The city of Jerusalem is where the crucifixion took place according to the Bible. Traditions include a pilgrimage in which many individuals carrying a cross will retrace the steps Jesus took on his way to the cross. The route leads to Golgotha where Jesus was crucified. In the evening a funeral procession takes place during which the participants will reenact the burial of Jesus.
In Bermuda the faithful fly kites to mark Good Friday and eat codfish cakes and hot cross buns. The kites symbolize Christ’s ascension to heaven.
Members of the Catholic churches in El Salvador take buckets of dyed sawdust to the streets which are used on Good Friday to make colorful scenes called alfombras (‘carpets’), which depict the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Many flock to London to watch a passion play depicting the crucifixion in Trafalgar Square. The play is 90-minutes long. It is open-air and free. The cast comprises of more than 100 performers including professional and amateur Christian actors who take the audience on a journey from Jesus’ arrest to his resurrection on Easter.
4,000 actors reenact Christ’s walk to his death. One of those participating is chosen to play the role of Jesus and will wear a crown of thorns and is flogged in the streets.
Crucifixion in the Philippines is a devotional practice held on Good Friday. Devotees or penitents called magdarame in Kapampangan are willingly crucified. Other practices include carrying wooden crosses, crawling on rough pavement and self-flagellation. The customs are strongly discouraged by the Catholic Church in the Philippines. Some participants are literally nailed to the cross.
Countries observing Good Friday as a Public Holiday
A number of countries around the world mark Good Friday as a public holiday. These are Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Caribbean, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, The Philippines, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom and Venezuela. A number of states in the United States also observe Good Friday as a public holiday.