It’s hard to believe that Good Friday is here again. As the world grows ever secular, we tend to lose sight of what days like today are about and how to celebrate them. What to do on the best Friday of the year? I guess the first step is to know what it’s all about!

Good Friday origins: If you’ve lived in a dark, stuffy, no tv, no education room for the last 2000 years, you may not know that Good Friday celebrates the death of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Why ‘Good’ you may ask? The good part was to come. Once Jesus was crucified on a cross for doing nothing except posing a threat to the religious and political leaders of the time, three days later he miraculously came back to life, in the flesh, wounds and all! (He was seen around town by several hundred people). The purpose? To draw people to God, to fling open the doors so they no longer had to talk to God through someone else or offer animal sacrifices. This was enough! It offered eternal life on a plate to anyone who believed.

So you can imagine this day is a mixed bag for believers; sad, sombre but with great hope and joy! It  is all about reflecting on the freedom that came with this day. Believers often feel great humility and gratitude for what was done, rather than the hyped ‘guilt’ that some sectors of the church piled on people. The real reason was for something completely different and revolutionary… no more guilt but slates wiped completely clean.

In the Christian world, Good Friday is remembered in all sorts of ways, from the terrifying to the beautiful:

In the Philippines up to thirty men volunteer to be nailed on a cross to experience, first-hand, what it would have been like for Jesus. In Jerusalem, believers carry a wooden cross down the same street Jesus walked, the Via Dolorosa. When in Rome the Pope leads followers through the ‘Way of the Cross’ ceremony at the Colosseum. In New York City, up to 3000 devotees will follow a wooden cross across the Brooklyn Bridge for the Good Friday procession. In Italy it is traditional to wash feet at the altar in the church as Jesus washed his disciples feet before the Last Supper, days before his death. Poland spends the day in mourning at the foot of a statue of the slain Jesus, where people kiss the wounds of statue of Jesus. Cards, flowers and the like are placed at his feet.
In Australia Good Friday simply means that meat is a no-no and fish a yes-yes and the grog shops are closed. There are church services on Thursday night, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The tradition of passion plays is experiencing a revival with some churches providing opportunities to walk with Jesus through his last day.

For many, Good Friday simply means last minute easter egg purchases and tales of a fluffy-eared fellow delivering hollow eggs to small (and large) children on the Sunday. A bit hollow?