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Good Friday Traditions Vary Around the World

For many Christians, the Friday before Easter Sunday holds the significance of being the day to remember the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

Known as “Good Friday” or “Holy Friday,” the observance has various traditions associated with it that are practiced by different denominations.

These traditions are oftentimes popular among denominations that are more traditional in their worship practices, like the Roman Catholic Church.

Here are seven traditions associated with Good Friday:

Passion Plays

A very popular way to observe Good Friday is the Passion Play, a performance usually outdoors that reenacts the final hours of Jesus’ life, from his arrest to his crucifixion.

Passion plays are said to have been first created in Europe during the Middle Ages, these dramatic performances are widely held throughout modern Christendom.

The village of Oberammergau in the Bavarian Alps is said to have the longest tradition with their Passion Play, having performed the large local production regularly since 1634.


Kite flying

In the Caribbean nation of Bermuda, a local tradition regarding Good Friday is to fly kites, normally with a cross as part of the design.

According to legend, a Sunday School teacher used a kite to illustrate to his students how Jesus ascended into Heaven.



In the Roman Catholic tradition, Good Friday is considered a day in which Catholics are to fast and to abstain from meat, with the rules on fasting varying within the global Church.

Hot Cross Buns 

Hot cross buns are a type of roll often baked with raisins and noted for having a cross shape on the top either imprinted with a knife or even consisting of icing.

Traditionally, they are eaten during Lent, especially on Good Friday. According to legend, they were first created by a 12th-century monk in preparation for Easter.

So closely associated with Good Friday are the food items, that in 1592 Queen Elizabeth I decided that they could only be eaten on Good Friday, Christmas and for burial ceremonies.


On Good Friday, many attend a worship service known as the Tenebrae, or “Darkness.” The service revisits the events of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion.

Near the end of the service, it is common practice for something known as the “Strepitus,” or “loud noise” to occur to symbolize the moment when Jesus died.


Wearing Black

In some circles, especially traditional Catholic communities, people are known to wear black clothing, especially mourning clothes, on Good Friday.

The fashion decision is based on treating the holy day, which centers on the death of Jesus, as a solemn occasion not unlike a funeral.

In the Republic of Ireland, a nation with a strong Catholic Christian history and heritage, it used to be illegal to sell alcohol on Good Friday.

No Alcohol

In January 2018, Ireland passed a law allowing pubs to open on Good Friday, with many of them opting to be open on the holy day for the first time in nearly a century.

However, some pubs continue the tradition of remaining closed on Good Friday, with one owner telling the Irish Independent that most of his customers “would observe fasting on the day and stay off the drink anyway.”   

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