Christians around the world observe Good Friday on the Friday before Easter to commemorate crucifixion, passion and death of Jesus Christ on the cross. The day is observed soberly as it is the day for mourning, austerity and the silence. This holy day is marked as one of the significant days to commemorate the torture and suffering of the Lord Christ. It is celebrated by fasting, praying and paying penance. On this day the devotees try to retrace the life of Jesus Christ through the Station of Cross and Good Friday procession.
Jesus Christ was betrayed by Judas for a mere thirty piece of silver and arrested on Thursday which is now observed as the Maundy Thursday. On the next day he was made to carry the wooden cross through the street to Golgotha, a place outside Jerusalem. He was tortured and humiliated all the way on this journey. He was then crucified on the same cross and made to die. After death, Jesus was believed to be buried in a cave in Jerusalem. Three days after death, he was resurrected or taken back to life and carried to heaven.
While, leaving he took away the sins of mankind assuring them eternity in heaven. Thus, this day of crucifixion is a sad day and observed as Good Friday and the Sunday on which Jesus was resurrected is celebrated as Easter Sunday.
Good Friday is celebrated on different day each year. This is because the date is calculated based on lunar calendar which is entirely different from the calendar we normally follow. The day is also calculated differently by eastern and western Christianity, the western calculation uses Gregorian calendar and in eastern Christians the date is calculated using the Julian calendar. Accordingly, Easter falls on the first Sunday following the vernal equinox and Good Friday comes three days earlier on Friday. This year, the Good Friday will fall on April 25th and Easter on April 27th.
Catholics observe fast by limiting their meal to one full meal or two smaller meals and no eating in-between. The orthodox Christians observe a complete fast where they keep away from all type of solid food. Christians observe fast so as to remember the forty days fast Jesus undertook in the final days of his life. Christians above the age of eighteen are required to fast on the day. It is not compulsory for people suffering from health problems, pregnant women and those over sixty years to observe the fast. Christians above fourteen years are also required to abstain from meat and meat product on this holy day. It is a tradition in Catholics to eat fish instead of meat on this day. They also prepare the sweet and spicy bread, the hot cross bun and share it with friends and relatives. As the name suggests the bun has a cross shape made on it with icing or a lighter colored dough which symbolizes the crucifixion.
Though the basic beliefs custom in observing the day is same, some differences are observed at different places. In Bensheim, a small town in Germany the last events in the life of Christ are re-enacted by actors. In the historic city of Quito, Ecuador the devotees march around more than five hours through crowded streets to honor the day. The extreme devotees in Philippines get themselves crucified on the wooden cross on the somber day and experience the pain Christ had to suffer. The people of Mexico conduct an elaborate procession of Station of Cross in which hundreds of men take part and the biblical significance of all the fourteen stations are explained. In Jerusalem, thousands of Christian pilgrims vent their way through the street of old city carrying the cross and retrace the Way of Suffering or the path to Calvary which is believed to be taken by Jesus Christ.