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12 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Good Friday

Good Friday marks the day Jesus was crucified on the cross. From flying a kite to abstaining from booze, here's the scoop on this religious holiday.

Background image for the church office: The Cross symbol of christian and Jesus Christ.Jacob_09/Shutterstock

It doesn’t seem very good

The earliest known use of “Guode Friday” is found in The South English Legendary, a text from around 1290, reports BBC News. But it seems contradictory to call a day that is about death “good.” The thing is, despite Good Friday representing the anniversary of Jesus’s death, it’s also about the triumph of his rising again. Christianity.com explains it in this way: “…the name Good Friday is entirely appropriate because the suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the dramatic culmination of God’s plan to save his people from their sins.” Good Friday is one of the main things people who celebrate Easter all acknowledge, but other countries actually celebrate the holiday differently.

Close up of calendar displaying Good Friday.iofoto/Shutterstock

It’s an unofficial holiday

Various institutions around the U.S. including schools and banks may shut down on Good Friday, but according to The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, there are only 12 states that consider it an official holiday: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas, and Tennessee.

wooden crucifix Jesus ChristMarioA/Shutterstock

Some take it a little too far

Although it is condemned by the Church, Mic.com reports there are people who, in an act of faith, nail themselves to a cross to re-enact the Crucifixion.

Goof Friday background concept: Wooden table with spiritual light of mountain sunrise.Jacob_09/Shutterstock

The first Good Friday

It’s celebrated in the spring, but what is the exact date for Good Friday? You’d have to go back a few thousand years to figure it out, and that’s exactly what authors Andreas Köstenberger and Justin Taylor did, reports The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission using historical data starting with Tiberius’s reign in A.D. 14. The authors determined in their book, The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived, that the date of the first Good Friday was Friday, April 3.

a lot of bells in a churchBe Good/Shutterstock

Church bells toll 33 times

There are many various traditions and rituals that surround Good Friday from all over the world. Some include a life-sized cross placed at the center of the altar in church that parishioners can then touch, reports India Today. Then there are some church services that conclude with a bell tolling 33 times in succession to represent each year of Jesus’s life. Other Easter traditions are less-based in religion like these 9 Easter traditions based in myths and legends.

washington state kite festivalRoman Khomlyak/Shutterstock

Go fly a kite

Bermuda is known for its pastel houses and pink beaches, and it’s also known for a custom that dates back to the 19th century: flying a kite on Good Friday. Why? Perhaps besides having a lovely beach to fly it on, a kite is flown to symbolize the cross that Jesus died on and his ascension into heaven, according to Timeanddate.com.

Rows of church benches. Sunlight filtered through the stained glass window. Selective focus. Black and white.Elena Dijour/Shutterstock

Dancing is outlawed in some places

In Germany, the day is referred to as Sourowful Friday, which reflects on the sadness of Jesus’s death. In fact, even dancing is frowned upon in Germany on that day.

paradeKsenia Ragozina/shutterstock

A parade in Ecuador

In the historic district of Quito, Ecuador, there are men, called cucuruchos, that dress up in purple robes and pointed masked headdresses and walk in a special procession on Good Friday, explains theculturetrip.com. They are joined by other Ecuadorians who dress up like Christ and lug about a heavy wooden cross to partake in the Procession of the Penitents. The event draws about 250,000 people to each year. Parades are popular ways people celebrate Easter around the world. People also celebrate bunnies during this time too, here’s why they’re so popular around Easter.

Candles Inside Saint Mary's cathedral in Gdansk, PolandRPBaiao/Shutterstock

Good Wednesday instead

Not everyone celebrates Good Friday on a Friday, says lasvegasnow.com. Rather than the more traditional Friday observance, Wednesday becomes the “good” day for many Baptist and non-Protestant churches. They use the date of the Jewish sacrifice of the Passover Lamb as their observance of the crucifixion.

guinnessAnton_Ivanov/shutterstock

No pint for you

A pub in Ireland isn’t hard to find, but a pint on Good Friday might be. Alcohol is mostly missing from Irish routines on this one day. However, if you really need to get your drink on, Irelandplanner.com reveals that you could head out to the train station, airports, or ferry ports. Heads up: You might have to show your trip ticket in order to get that pint.

small nest with eggs on woodCGissemann/Shutterstock

Eggs are not just about Easter

The legend in Ireland is that if you collect eggs laid on Good Friday, they’ll never rot. Some hold on to eggs for decades just to prove the myth, shares Irelandplanner.com. Another Irish tradition that isn’t as risky is to eat in an egg on Easter Sunday that was laid on Good Friday. Supposedly, you’ll reap health benefits all year long. Here’s why eggs are associated with Easter in the first place.

Empty plate with spoon and fork on wooden backgroundiryna1/Shutterstock

Time to fast

Many Christians fast or abstain from eating any type of meat on the day. Others are slightly more lenient, indulging in one full meal and two smaller ones. Once fasting is over, celebrate with an Easter feast using these 15 simple recipes.