Good Friday

Good Friday Quick Facts - DE

AKA NameHoly and Great Friday, Kafreitag
HashtagsCompiled on#GoodFriday
Related Hashtags#Karfreitag, #Ostern, #Jesus
2024 Date29 March 2024
2025 Date18 April 2025

Good Friday

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Good Friday History

Good Friday, known as Karfreitag in German, commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. This day holds deep religious significance for Christians globally, marking the culmination of the Holy Week following Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday, leading to Easter. The primary themes of Good Friday encompass sorrow, penance, and atonement. The day is observed solemnly, with devout individuals often participating in various rites such as fasting, penitential prayer, and the veneration of the Cross.

The observance of Good Friday dates back to the first centuries of Christianity. In Germany, Good Friday was traditionally viewed not just as a day of atonement but also as a day of mourning, with homilies focusing on Christ's Seven Last Words. This day was imposed with a restricted code of conduct, prohibiting frivolous activities, to uphold the solemn character of the day. Many of these traditions persist in contemporary Germany, influencing the country's cultural fabric.

In modern Germany, Good Friday is a public holiday and is observed as a "silent day", with statutory prohibitions on festive public events such as concerts or sport contests. Church services on Good Friday in Germany are often somber, with hymns and music echoing the mournful mood. They retain the focus on the Seven Last Words, while the use of liturgical instruments is wholly minimal. In some regions, processions and Passion plays also form part of the day's observances. Good Friday takes place on the Friday before Easter Sunday, the timing of which varies annually but typically falls within March or April, according to the Gregorian calendar.

Facts about Good Friday

  • In the Orthodox tradition, the day is called Holy and Great Friday. In typical Orthodox services, a cross is removed from the church sanctuary and the congregation observes a service that focuses on Christ's burial in the tomb.
  • A service called Tenebrae is often held on Good Friday. It focuses on reading the scriptures that describe Jesus' arrest, trial, beating, and crucifixion. In the Roman Catholic Church, Tenebrae may be celebrated on Holy Thursday. Another variation, called Tre Ore, or three hours, is a service that runs typically from noon to 3 p.m., believed to be the time of Jesus' death. It focuses on the last seven phrases that Christ said before his death based on several different gospels. Each phrase is accompanied by a scripture reading, a hymn, and sometimes a short sermon.
  • The Way, or Stations, of the Cross is another way that Christians observe Good Friday. It is primarily a Roman Catholic tradition, but some Protestant churches practice it as well. Depictions of the last 12 acts of Jesus' life are placed in the church or are sometimes permanently stationed outside on the church grounds. Worshipers walk from one station to the next in prayer and contemplation.
  • In Bavaria, processions known as the "Karfreitagsprozessionen" are held, which are recognized as part of the cultural heritage by UNESCO. These processions include members of local fraternities dressed in traditional costume carrying religious statues and crosses.
  • In many parts of Germany, loud noises, public entertainment (like dancing), and even certain types of work are prohibited by law on Good Friday. This is to allow for contemplation and recognition of Jesus Christ's crucifixion.

Top things to do in Germany for Good Friday

  • One tradition on Good Friday is to make and eat hot cross buns. The bread, which is slightly sweet, has a cross on the top that represents the crucifixion. It is thought to be an English tradition that dates back 500 years.
  • Attend a Passion Play: One of the traditional features of Good Friday in Germany is the Passion Plays, which are dramatic performances recounting the last few days of Jesus Christ's life. The most famous play occurs every ten years in Oberammergau, but many other towns and cities also arrange them.
  • Read a book to learn more about Good Friday in Germany:
    Luther's Fortress: Martin Luther and His Reformation Under Siege - by James Reston Jr.: The book provides a detailed account of Martin Luther's role in transforming the religious landscape of Germany, including an inclusive view of Easter period traditions.

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