To my non-Christian friend who keeps wishing me Happy Good Friday each year despite my constant efforts to explain that Good Friday is not a day of celebration, but a day of mourning. This article is for you.
Read on to understand the significance of the days leading up to Easter. And I hope that the next time you don’t wish me a Happy Good Friday.
Easter week, known as the Holy week, starts with Palm Sunday or Hosanna or Oshana(as called in my native language). It’s a day celebrated by Christians as the homecoming of Jesus into his birthplace, Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem welcomed him into the city by laying down their cloaks and palm leaves on his path. They shouted, “Hosanna, to the Son of David. Hosanna in the highest.” Hence, deriving the name Palm Sunday or Hosanna.
You might have seen Christians bringing home a palm leaf on this day. That leaf is safely guarded in their homes until the next year. And, burned during Ash Wednesday, which symbolizes the beginning of the period of lent for Christians all across the globe.
Maundy Thursday is the day when Jesus had his last supper with his beloved disciples. This moment is beautifully captured by the famous painter, Leonardo Da Vinci, in his painting, The Last Supper. We see replicas of it everywhere today in our homes, churches, and other places of worship.
Jesus broke bread and wine on that Thursday, sharing it with his disciples. Birthing the ceremony of the Holy Eucharist performed in churches today. It signifies partaking in the body and blood of God.
Another ceremony preceding the supper and one that is still followed in churches during Maundy Thursday is where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples.
During the supper, Jesus prophesied that one among his disciples will betray him. Later that night while Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas Iscariot betrayed him by kissing him and identifying him as the “rabbi” to the officials, who arrested him and took him to be prosecuted.
This day and the days following, are spent in mourning and prayers by all devout Christians. I remember my mother preparing Pesaha appam(Passover bread) which signifies the bread Jesus broke with his disciples. It is prepared on the eve of Maundy Thursday and shared with family members. As children, this sweet piece of appam was a welcome treat during the long Passover week.
As someone whose former years were not spent going to church on Sundays, Good Friday was arduous(to put it simply). Sitting in church the whole day on a hot summer month was not something my body was trained for. I remember cribbing and finding excuses to avoid going to church. As many of you might have done(i.e my Christian brothers and sisters).
As I grew up, so did my understanding of this day and its significance. Good Friday is a day of passion, repentance, and immense faith. It was the day Jesus Christ was put on trial amongst the people who once called him the Messiah. Fickle-minded as they were, they all wanted him to be crucified. Jesus was given capital punishment. The worst form of punishment in that era.
He was hung by the cross and died for the sins of mortal people. You might be still wondering but why is it called “Good” Friday?
Because his death implies washing away of sins. Jesus died so that we may be forgiven of our sins. Hence, the good implies the good news of deliverance from our sins and attaining salvation.
It is also considered to be a misinterpretation of God’s Friday from old English or a German word to Good Friday.
We mortal beings remember this day by partaking in prayers, fasting, mourning, and reading from the Bible. Ceremonial prayers can be heard in churches all across. The day in church ends with a simple meal of kanji(rice gruel), payar thoran(lentils), pickles, and pappadam.
Holy Saturday is the day after Jesus’ crucifixion when he was buried inside a cave. Christian devotees gather together in prayers awaiting the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For us, less devout Christians, this is the day when we look forward to breaking our lent and preparing ourselves for the feast the next day. As a kid, this day was the longest, the wait.
Awaiting the end of Sunday Mass and indulging in some mouth-watering appam and egg curry. Followed by a feast at home.
Easter Sunday is the day of celebration(you can wish me). It marks the day when Jesus rose from the dead and was resurrected. It is a day of significance among Christians for obvious reasons and also, this day is why we celebrate Sunday as a Holy Day.
The tradition of religious observance on Sunday began on this day.
Easter is the day of joy, celebration, and being grateful. It is a reminder of forgiveness, compassion, and undying faith. Though the fervour has reduced to mere wishes with passing years, the faith still remains. And, that’s something we can all pass on to our younger generation.
Can’t wait to gorge on my delicious Easter feast this Sunday.
Wishing every one of you a Happy Easter.
Tell me about your Easter memories.
P.S: The article is my understanding of the Holy week and my experiences growing up as a Christian in my community. There can be corrections to the facts but not in my experiences. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong anywhere with the facts.