Good Friday 2019 | Millions of people will be commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday by offering prayers and participating in sombre ceremonies and processions. Re-enactments will be held to remember the sufferings of Jesus Christ who Christians believe died for the sins of humanity.
The day is known as Karfreitag or “Sorrowful Friday” in German, while in Spanish it is called Viernes Santo or “Holy or Sacred Friday”. So, why is it referred to as Good Friday in English and what could possibly be ‘good’ about a day that according to the Bible marks the gory crucifixion of Christ? Here is our explainer on the apparent paradox.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest known use of “guode friday” was found in the 13th-century text, The South English Legendary. The most plausible theory is that since the day is considered Holy, it is associated with goodness. Many people also believe that because the crucifixion of Jesus was followed by his Resurrection and victory over death and sin, the day is hence referred to as ‘Good’ Friday.
This view finds credence in Christian scripture and texts too. Baltimore Catechism, the standard US Catholic school curriculum from 1885 to the 1960s, says the day is called Good Friday because Christ “showed His great love for man, and purchased for him every blessing”.
Another theory which suggests that Good Friday is just a distortion of an older phrase, God’s Friday, has been debunked by many experts.
“The origin from God is out of the question,” a Slate article quotes Anatoly Liberman, a professor at the University of Minnesota, as saying.
Linguist and lexicographer Ben Zimmer agree, explaining to the magazine that the German for Good Friday isn’t actually “Gottes Freitag” (“God’s Friday”), as the Catholic Encyclopedia suggests, but rather Karfreitag (“Sorrowful Friday”). “None of the early examples in the Oxford English Dictionary imply that it started off as
God’s rather than Good, so I don’t really see this as more than speculative etymology,” Zimmer says.