Good Friday is one of the most significant observances connected to the Christian festival, which encompasses a full week of holy days – however, in secular circles, its main appeal is that it’s a national holiday…
Is Good Friday a bank holiday?
Good Friday was historically a common law holiday in the UK, and so didn’t require to be officially denoted as a bank holiday with the introduction of the Bank Holidays Act in 1871.
It remains one in all but name, however – which means schools will be closed and many businesses will shut or operate reduced opening hours.
Good Friday always falls two days before Easter Sunday, which means in 2023 the holiday is on Friday 7 April.
There is then another bank holiday on Monday 10 April to mark Easter Monday, meaning many people will get a four-day weekend.
Good Friday’s position in the calendar changes from year to year, with the holiday potentially marked at any time between 20 March and 23 April. This year’s observance is just over a week earlier than in 2022.
It coincides with the Jewish festival of Passover, which this year runs from Wednesday 5 April until Thursday 13 April.
What is Good Friday?
Good Friday commemorates The Passion – the biblical story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at Calvary – before his resurrection is celebrated on Easter Sunday.
Although the precise date of Christ’s death is a source of much debate, biblical scholars tend to be in agreement that it came on a Friday on or near Passover, between 30-33AD.
According to the Bible, Jesus shared the Last Supper with his disciples on what is now marked as Maundy Thursday.
He was then betrayed by his follower Judas Iscariot, who revealed his location to Roman soldiers in return for 30 pieces of silver.
The Bible says that on Good Friday it took Jesus six hours to die on the cross at Calvary, outside Jerusalem, ending his life with the famous words: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
His death is thought to have been commemorated by Christians as part of Easter’s Holy Week at least as far back as the fourth century.
On the face of it, the sobering subject matter of the observance jar with Good Friday’s distinctly upbeat name, which is first recorded around the late 13th century.
There is some dispute as to the origins of the label, with some suggesting that it is a corruption of “God’s Friday” and other experts stating that the adjective “good” is simply used to denote any holy day observed by the church.