Good Friday 2014
Good Friday 2014: Actors take part in a "Via Crucis" re-enactment during a Holy Week procession to prepare for Good Friday celebrations, in Luque (Photo: Reuters)

One of the most prominent observances of the Christian fraternity, Good Friday is here. But the day is often observed collectively by many people around the world, most often, irrespective of what religion they belong to. It is a public holiday in much of the Europe, South America and Asia including India.

(Also Read: Good Friday 2014: 10 Inspiring Quotes, Sayings; 7 Blessings, Prayers to Share on Sacred Day )

It is the day observed in commemoration of Jesus Christ's crucifixion, which plays an important part in the Christian faith. It is often thought to be the most important event in Christianity, as it represents the sacrifices and suffering in Jesus' life.

The crucifixion occurred as a culmination of a number of events in the Holy Week, including the triumphal entry of Jesus to Jerusalem riding a donkey on Palm Sunday and the washing of the disciples' feet and the last supper observed on Maundy Thursday.

As Good Friday 2014 is here,  let us celebrate the day by noting some of the most interesting facts associated with the day:

  • Why 'Good Friday'?

The term 'Good Friday' may sound strange to many people considering what had actually happened on that day. Many wouldn't believe that the day Jesus was crucified should be called 'Good', but there are theories explaining how it possibly started.

One school of thought theorizes that Good Friday stems from the words "God's Friday", while others think that the word 'good' would simply be interpreted as something that is "observed as holy". 

  • Different Names

Many Orthodox Christians call the day 'Great Friday'. The day is sometimes also known as Black Friday or Sorrowful Friday, as well as Long Friday. In Germany it is referred to as 'Gottes Freitag' which translates into "God's Friday' while Anglo-Saxons called it Long Friday, which is how it is still known in Denmark.

  • Exact Date of Crucifixion is Scientifically Debated

The date of the crucifixion has been debated for many years but there has been no agreement on the exact year or the day on which Jesus died. But scientists from the University of Oxford published a study in 1985, which said that evidence strongly points the exact day was Friday, 3 April, A.D. 33.

The study used astronomical calculations to reconstruct the first century AD Jewish calendar and narrowed down to a date of a lunar eclipse, which Biblical and other references suggest, followed the crucifixion.

  • People Willingly Nail Themselves to Crosses for Reenactments

Reenactments of the events that took place on Good Friday are commonplace for Christians. But some of the faithful ones go to the extent of physically being nailed to crosses for a length of time in order to display their faith. This takes place particularly in the Philippines where the annual reenactment draws tens of thousands of tourists. This happens despite Churches' condemnation as a distortion to the true meaning of Easter.

  • Origin of Crucifixion

The practice of crucifixion as a form of cruel and disgraceful method of execution first began among the Persians, a Mayo clinic study notes. It is reported that Alexander the Great introduced the practice to Egypt and Carthage, and the Romans are reported to have possibly learned it from the Carthaginians.

The study also notes that a human would be unable to support the weight of their body in their hands, but is able to do so in their wrists, a fact that points to the theory that Jesus was crucified by nails driven into his wrists, and not hands.

(Also Read: 10 Holy Week and Easter Quotes to Share)