When Is Good Friday & Why Is It Celebrated?

When Is Good Friday & Why Is It Celebrated?

This 2022, Holy Week will begin on April 10 and end on April 16

Holy Week is full of meanings and memories of a history that took place more than 2,000 years ago. Here I tell you what is commemorated for each of the days prior to Easter.

Holy Week is celebrated each year after 40 days of Lent. With these days we seek to remember the days when Jesus spent in the desert preparing himself spiritually, which is why on these dates fasting is practiced in a moderate way. It should be remembered that the dates of Holy Week are never fixed, they are determined by the liturgical calendar of the year.


Good Friday: Origin and Meaning

Good Friday is one of the most representative celebrations of Christianity. It is the sixth day of Holy Week, which commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus of Nazareth. As penance, the Catholic Church commands the faithful to fast and abstain.

Several of the most relevant events in the Bible took place on Good Friday:

- Jesus before Pontius Pilate: Shortly after dawn, Jesus was brought before Pilate. Although he realized that Jesus was innocent, the elders, priests, and religious leaders demanded that he be sentenced to death.
- Procession: after the sentence, they put a crown of thorns on Jesus and made him carry a cross to be taken to Golgotha.
-Crucifixion: once in Golgotha, Jesus was crucified, and next to him, they placed two thieves.
- Death and burial: when night fell, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Afterward, he wrapped his body and took it to a cave, from where he came out three days later resurrected.

What is Commemorated On Each Day Of Holy Week?

Palm Sunday


Palm Sunday is the day with which Holy Week begins. This day commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem mounted on the back of a donkey. On that occasion, the Messiah was greeted by a crowd that covered the road with branches, palms, and cloth to celebrate his arrival. For this reason, the Christian communities remember this date with a special mass, processions, and decorated palms or olive branches that will later be blessed.

Holy Monday


Holy Monday is not usually celebrated, it is even a day when work is still carried out normally. However, it takes on historical importance and is called "Authority Monday."

It is remembered when Jesus manifested his power before the people and nature. Jesus Christ spent the night in Bethany —in the house of Lazarus— and the next day he went to the temple in Jerusalem. There he finds that instead of being a place of prayer, the merchants have taken over the spaces to do their business.

Faced with such a show of degradation, Jesus violently kicks out the merchants and argues that this is a sacred place that should be respected. “My house, house of prayer will be called”, he points out according to the evangelists. That same day, he also shows his power before nature by cursing the fig tree that bears no fruit.

The Gospel that is read during Mass on Monday of Authority is that of Saint John. The passage of the anointing in Bethany is remembered, when Christ visits the house of Lazarus and Mary —sister of the resurrected— anoints Jesus' feet with very expensive perfumes. “Mary took a pound of expensive, authentic nard perfume, and she anointed Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume”, he says in John 12:1-11.

Holy Tuesday


Tuesday is a day of preparation for the Easter Triduum (the main days of Holy Week). It is also known as "Controversy Tuesday" since it is on this date that Jesus Christ confronts the religious leaders of his time.

He first challenges the Jewish priests and cornflowers, who questioned his authority to preach and perform miracles. Later he does the same in front of the Pharisees when he is questioned about the tribute and Christ manages to answer them by holding a Roman coin: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar's; and to God what is God's."

Also on this day, the Gospel of Saint John is read and it is remembered when Jesus announces his future death before his disciples, predicts Peter's denial, and anticipates Judas Iscariot's betrayal.

Holy Wednesday


This date marks exactly the end of Lent in the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. This day is also a day of preparation for the Easter Triduum. The betrayal of Judas Iscariot is remembered when he agreed with the Sanhedrin and the religious court of the Jews to hand over Jesus in exchange for 30 coins.

During Holy Wednesday, the Gospel of Saint Matthew is read to remember the betrayal of Judas. “The one who has dipped in the same fountain as me, that one is going to deliver me. The Son of man goes away, as it is written of him; but, woe to him who is going to deliver the Son of man! it would have been better for him not to have been born”, says Matthew 26:14-25.

Easter Triduum of Holy Week

It is about the three days before the resurrection of Jesus. It is here that the last supper, capture, trial, passion, and death of Christ are remembered.

Holy Thursday


It is the first day of the Easter Triduum. The Last Supper of Jesus with his 12 apostles is remembered, as an event in which he washed their feet. For this last reason, during the mass that same day, the bishops and the Pope recreate this act in their respective countries and the priests renew their vows of life with the Church. This date is also used for the blessing of the oils that will be used in baptisms, anointing of the sick, and priestly ordinations.

After dinner, Jesus went to pray in the Garden of Olives, where he spent the whole night until the moment of his capture. Judas handed him over to the Romans with a kiss on the cheek. That is why this day is a vigil and processions are held that last all night until the early hours of Good Friday. It is here when the tour of the 7 churches takes place.

At dawn a mass is celebrated, known as the "Chrism Mass", it is presided over by the diocesan bishop and some priests. The Old Testament is read and mentioned is usually made of the dinner that the people of Israel celebrated during the Exodus. Since then, the Paschal Supper was celebrated, the same one that Jesus and his disciples performed.

Holy Friday


This date is a day of mourning. The trial, torture, crucifixion, and death of Jesus Christ are commemorated. For this reason, the Catholic faithful go to the temples to pray the Way of the Cross, pray the Seven Words, the Rosary of Condolences, and reflect on the sacrifice of Christ. Mass and Eucharist are not celebrated on this date.

After having undergone torture and being tried by Pilate before a crowd —who preferred to free Barabbas—, Jesus receives a crown of thorns on his head and a cross with which he must walk to Mount Calvary.

Then he is crucified and to certify his death they stick a spear in his side, immediately afterward water came out and the scriptures were fulfilled "No bone of his shall be broken", according to John 19:36. After this episode, Josue of Arimathea is in charge of recovering the body of Christ and delivering it to his mother to be deposited in a tomb.

During this day, in some parts of the world, processions are held. The Church recommends its faithful to pray and remain abstinent and recollected. Usually on this day meat is not consumed.

In the afternoon the office begins, the priest prostrates himself before the altar and the faithful kneel and pray in silence. Then the Liturgy of the Word is given, where it is mentioned what Jesus lived while walking to Mount Calvary, his crucifixion, and his death.

Saturday of Glory


This is the third day of the Easter Triduum, which lasts until early Sunday morning. The mourning of the Church continues, since the body of Jesus is in the Holy Sepulchre. Mass is not celebrated and the altar remains empty until the start of the Easter Vigil. Processions are not usually held and it is usually a weekday.

The Easter Vigil begins on Saturday night, this is one of the main religious acts of the liturgical year. It starts at 6:00 p.m.

Easter Sunday


Finally, the main day of Holy Week is Easter Sunday. When Christ comes back to life and fulfills the prophecy that “on the third day” he would rise again. On this day the sacraments of baptism and confirmation are renewed.

Easter Sunday is interpreted as the opportunity for salvation so that humanity can enter heaven.

According to the gospels, Mary Magdalene was the main witness to the resurrection of Christ. Since the Gospel of Matthew indicates that there were only two (Mary Magdalene and Mary); Lucas points out that there were many more (Maria Magdalena, Juana, María the mother of Santiago, and the other women); Mark speaks of three women (Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome) and John only mentions Mary Magdalene, who appears in the other gospels as well.

The women or just Mary Magdalene, depending on which gospel is consulted, would tend to the body of Jesus with perfumes and balms. Upon reaching the tomb they notice that the rock is removed and there is nobody. An angel appears and informs them that Jesus had risen.

They return and tell everything to the apostles and to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Pedro and Jhon run to the tomb and only find the bandages on the ground. Then Christ makes different appearances among his disciples as proof of his return to life.

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