What happens on Good Friday today?
Since the early nineteenth century, before the introduction of bank holidays, Good Friday and Christmas Day were the only two days of leisure which were almost universally granted to working people. Good Friday today is still a public holiday in much of the UK. This means that many businesses are closed.
Some Christians fast (go without food) on Good Friday. This helps them remember the sacrifice Jesus made for them on the day of crucifixion.
Some Christians take part in a procession of witness, carrying a cross through the streets and then into church.
Special Church Service
Many churches hold a special service. This may be a communion service in the evening or a time of prayer during the day, especially around 3 o'clock as that is about the time of day when Jesus died.
Many Churches hold services lasting three hours. They may celebrate the Stations of the Cross, or take part in Passion plays and dramatic readings.
Churches are not decorated on Good Friday. In some churches, pictures and statues are covered over. It is seen as a time of mourning.
It is traditional to eat warm 'hot cross buns' on Good Friday. Hot Cross Buns with their combination of spicy, sweet and fruity flavours have long been an Easter tradition.
Why do we eat Hot Cross Buns ?
The pastry cross on top of the buns symbolises and reminds Christians of the cross that Jesus was killed on.
The buns were traditionally eaten at breakfast time, hot from the oven. They were once sold by street vendors who sang a little song about them.
"Hot cross buns, Hot cross buns,
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns."
Hot Cross Bun Ceremony
At the London Pub, The Widow's Son, a Hot Cross Bun Ceremony takes place each Good Friday. In the early 19th century, a widow who lived on the site was expecting her sailor son back home for Easter, and placed a hot cross bun ready for him on Good Friday. The son never returned, but undaunted the widow left the bun waiting for him and added a new bun each year. Successive landlords have kept the tradition going after the pub was opened.
Other traditional Good Friday food
It is traditional to eat fish on Good Friday instead of meat.
Good Friday Traditions
Traditionally Good Friday was the day when everything was cleaned and whitewashed in preparation for Easter Sunday.
Old Tradition on Good Friday
From the reign of Edward III to that of Mary Tudor, monarchs used to bless a plateful of gold and silver rings every Good Friday at the Chapel Royal, within St. James's Palace.
By rubbing the rings between their fingers, the royal touch was believed to cure cramp and epilepsy. The custom was abolished during the reign of Elizabeth I.