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Good Friday: Facts and theories about the day Christ died on the cross

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Different religions and cultures have their own traditions within their faiths. In the Christian religion (Catholic and Protestant denominations), Good Friday is the day that Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross in Golgotha (also known as Calvary). Let's look at some facts and theories about Good Friday.

When is Good Friday and Easter 2014? Good Friday is April 18, 2014 and Easter Sunday is April 20, 2014.

Interesting Good Friday theories and traditions:

  • In 1985, two Oxford University researchers published a paper naming April 3, 33 AD as the original date of the crucifixion. They derived that date from astronomical tables, Scriptural documentation, and the years of Pontius Pilate’s term as procurator in Judea – 26-36 AD. The researchers point out that all four Gospels agree the crucifixion occurred during the Jewish festival, Passover.
  • Many religion scholars believe Jesus was crucified by nails driven into his wrists, not hands. French physician Pierre Barbet wrote a book called A Doctor at Calvary, in which he said humans are able to bear their own weight with the strength of their bones and ligaments within the wrists, but not with palms alone. Barbet posited that if Jesus was nailed only in his hands, he would have fallen to the ground. By the time of Jesus’s death, crucifixion had already been practiced for some 600 years and was a detailed procedure designed to be a very painful process for the victim.
  • Good Friday occurs two days before Easter Sunday in the United States. It is the day when Christians commemorate Jesus Christ's crucifixion, which plays an important part in the Christian faith. It is not a federal holiday in the United States, although it is a state holiday in some states.
  • Good Friday is a day of mourning and churches never have flowers or decorations on this day. The church is typically left dark and there is just a simple cross on the altar, if anything. The purpose behind the solemn presentation is to create an awareness of grief over the sacrifice of God's only begotten Son. Today, many churches hold special services on Good Friday evening to commemorate this important day.
  • Easter depends on Passover not only for much of its symbolic meaning but also for its position in the calendar. The Last Supper shared by Jesus and his disciples before his crucifixion is generally thought of as a Passover seder; however, based on the Gospel of John, it preceded the Passover. In that Gospel, Christ's death happens at the time of the slaughter of the Passover lambs.
  • There are two possible origins for the name "Good Friday". The first may have come from the Gallican Church in Gaul (modern-day France and Germany). The name "Gute Freitag" is Germanic in origin and literally means "good" or "holy" Friday. The second possibility is a variation on the name "God's Friday," where the word "good" was used to replace the word "God," which was often viewed as too holy to be spoken aloud.

How do you recognize Good Friday? Do you attend church services, have family time to talk about what Good Friday means or does the day pass without thought?

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