Good Friday

Posted by ESC on April 21, 2000

Why do we (in the U.S.) call the Friday before Easter Sunday "Good Friday"?

The Anglo-Saxons used to call the day of Christ's crucifixion Long Friday, an allusion to the length of the church services, and in the Greek Church it is known as the Holy or Great Friday, according to "How Did It Begin" by R. Brash.

The Germans refer to it as Karfreitag. "The Kar part is an obsolete word, the ancestor of the English word care in the sense of cares and woes, and it meant mourning. So in German, it is Mourning Friday. And that is what the disciples did on that day-they mourned. They thought all was lost," Ken Collins, Disciples of Christ minister from McLean, Va., explains on his web site ( welcome.htm).

But most of us call the day Good Friday. There are several theories about the origin of this term.
1. This is "an archaic sense of good, synonymous with holy." (Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William and Mary Morris.)

2. "Some scholars argue that 'good' is a corruption of 'God' and that early Christians commemorating the sad event called it God's Friday." (Sacred Origins of Profound Things by Charles Panati.)

3. "It is possible that the appellative was chosen simply to distinguish the day from all the other Fridays throughout the year." (How Did It Begin.)

And, perhaps the best explanation:
4. "Others claim that 'good' signifies the bounty of blessings - indeed, salvation - Christ won for human kind by his sacrifice." (Sacred Origins of Profound Things.)