Happy Good Friday — or Black Friday, or Easter Friday, or regular old Friday, depending on your spiritual tradition. Good Friday is a holiday primarily celebrated by Christians to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the Friday prior to Easter. We do wonder how Jesus would have felt if someone had told him that the holiday marking his death would be called, “Good Friday.” Perhaps not the first title that would have come to his mind (kidding, kidding). 🙂
While in the United States Good Friday is not a government-recognized holiday, many countries around the world close down their offices and have laws that ban certain activities on the Friday prior to Easter. We’ve compiled a list of the most interesting things governments around the world believe you should not be doing to celebrate the day:
1. Laughing & Public Dancing
In Germany, comedic theatre performances and public dancing are illegal on Good Friday (although this restriction isn’t always well enforced). You can still watch comedy on TV or in movie theaters, but many TV channels will only show religious material on the day.
2. Drinking Alcohol
Ireland has a law prohibiting alcohol from being sold on Good Friday. In 1962, the Intoxicating Liquor Act introduced “area exemption orders” to allow the sale of alcohol for special events, but all pubs and many restaurants remain closed.
3. Horse racing
In the United Kingdom, horse racing is banned on Good Friday. Historically, gambling was banned altogether on the national holiday, but in 2008 a law was passed that allowed betting shops to remain open. That change elicited anger from many church officials who claimed the law reflected a lack of respect for the day Christians remember Christ’s crucifixion.
If you’re an Eastern Orthodox Christian, you are not supposed to eat at all on Good Friday or the Saturday following. The Catholic Church also observes fasting and abstinence to commemorate their belief in Christ’s sacrifice.
So that sums up what people around the world won’t be doing on Good Friday. What about you? Let us know how you plan to celebrate in the comments below.
Originally published in 2012