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It's a Good Friday

Times Change

By Judey Kalchik Published 3 months ago Updated 2 months ago 4 min read
It's a Good Friday
Photo by Ruel Calitis on Unsplash

21% of Americans have taken today off from work. Maybe it's a planned vacation day, maybe they've called off sick, or maybe they are in one of the 12 states where today is a state holiday and it's just expected.

It used to be, when I was the oldest child that ran most of the errands, that our small neighborhood- like many other neighborhoods in the 60's- closed down from noon to 3:00 in observation of today: Good Friday.

Why Noon to 3:00?

These three hours on Good Friday are accepted as the length of time that darkness fell over the land during the last half of the six hours Jesus hung on the cross. These were seen as the three hours of His greatest agony.

When I was a girl local businesses also 'went dark' and closed. In our home the TV also went dark, all five of us kids stayed indoors (encouraged to read or play cards quietly), and we did no work. Many people spent that time in church in quiet contemplation- we did not attend because: five children are not useful in quiet contemplation.

And, it was quiet in most of those churches, save for the occasional choir songs. Traditionally, the church doesn't have a communion ceremony on Good Friday. Instead many churches spend the time in prayer. In many churches the cross and any other stuary, altars, etc are draped with black cloth.

These Days on Good Friday

Twelve U.S. states uphold Good Friday as a state holiday. This means that courts, state offices, most banks, government buildings, public libraries, and schools are closed today in

  1. Connecticut
  2. Delaware
  3. Florida
  4. Hawaii
  5. Indiana
  6. Kentucky
  7. Louisiana
  8. North Carolina
  9. North Dakota
  10. New Jersey
  11. Tennessee
  12. Texas

Although in the rest of the country, most companies and office remain open today, one place that may surprise you closes on Good Friday: the U.S. Stock Market; both the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq are closed today.

Choose your entertainment today wisely

On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was assassinated as he watched a light comedy performance in a theater: it was on Good Friday. To my knowledge no one has intimated that this was punishment for laughing on the holy day, but rather a first step to overthrow the current government.

However- in the 80's the aversion people in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania had regarding attending a play on Good Friday came in handy. There were still tickets available for me and my husband to attend Yul Brynner's final touring performance of The King and I at the now-gone Syria Mosque that Good Friday.

Germany, where it is referred to as Sorrowful Friday, dancing is forbidden and nightclubs must be closed.

In Ireland, pubs were closed for years and years and the sale of alcohol was forbidden on Good Friday. That was changed in 2018.

(Strangely enough: the ban on hard alcohol is forbidden in Michigan from 2AM on every Sunday until noon. Some grocery stores actually rope off the aisles were alcohol is stocked, and remove the stanchions at noon.)

In Good Friday a celebration day?

Back in the day before streaming services, Netflix DVDs, VCRs, and Blockbuster: the week leading to Good Friday was dominated by 'seasonal films'. Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, The Greatest Story Ever Told: all have a place in my lead-up-to-Easter memory. We would have the chance to see them once a year and I still remember the wonder I felt when Moses-Charlton-Heston told the desert nomad that 'For what it's worth, you have Moses' blessing'. (At least that's the paraphrasing I have in my memory-mind. The irony of that statement! the weight of that blessing! [from Moses, not Heston]).

Although hard to describe the following as 'celebrations', there are religious spectacles around the world that happen on Good Friday:

  • In Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala colorful sawdust is used to make religious art called alfrombras (rug), depicting religious themes.
  • In Rome, the Pope leads a procession called The Way of the Cross, stopping 14 times to pray and commemorate the steps taken by Jesus on the way to the cross.
  • In Jerusalem, the faithful do that even more realistically, tracing the route to Golgotha, where the Bible notes the crucifixion took place, and carrying crosses of their own.
  • In London, the play The Passion of Jesus is performed by over 100 people in Trafalgar Square. The play recreates events leading to the crucifixion and through Easter Sunday's resurrection.

These traditions, and many more, are observed by many on this day. Although they may not be in observance of a belief that you hold, it's interesting and important to know what is happening today in communities and homes around you, as well as the memories of days and years past that still resonate today.


I LOVE comments! Let me know if any of these are new to you, which I may have missed, and your favorite traditions.

I will do a more in depth piece that traces the timing of the Easter holiday with the many other Spring, solstice, and light-filled holidays celebrated around the world.

For more reading about who and what we identify and celebrate: I suggest The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.

World HistoryPerspectivesModernFiguresEventsDiscoveriesAncient

About the Creator

Judey Kalchik

It's my time to find and use my voice.

Poetry, short stories, memories, and a lot of things I think and wish I'd known a long time ago.

You can also find me on Medium

And please follow me on Threads, too!

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (8)

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  • Joe O’Connor2 months ago

    This was super interesting to read, especially about how Good Friday is commemorated in different places around the world! Some fascinating facts about what it's like in the USA too. "five children are not useful in quiet contemplation."- coming from a large family, this one stuck out to me haha. Those films are familiar as well!

  • Thus was an interesting piece. Thank you for sharing this Judey.

  • Asad Message3 months ago

    lovely content

  • Shirley Belk3 months ago

    Thank you for bringing this to all of us. The word that comes to mind is reverence. May we always keep it in our hearts and keep it sanctified in some way.

  • Thank you for sharing all these with us, Judey. Interesting to know some of the different traditions around the world.

  • Cathy holmes3 months ago

    It's a statutory holiday in Canada. I remember watching those movies over and over, but not recently. Growing up, we always went to church to do the Stations of the cross, and fish was always served for dinner. I am not religious, but to this day, I don't eat meat on Good Friday. Some things stick, I guess.

  • Denise E Lindquist3 months ago

    I remember new dressy Easter clothing. Patten leather shoes, hats and gloves. Bright colored homemade dresses. And fresh baked Easter bread.

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