How Did Good Friday Get Its Name?

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
Unlike Palm Sunday or Holy Thursday, Good Friday's name doesn't seem totally logical at first glance. Think about it: It's the most solemn day of Holy Week — the day worshippers spend mourning Jesus' death — so it may feel a bit strange that it's called Good. And, it turns out, this Friday isn't considered "good" everywhere.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, it remains unclear how Good Friday got its name. The Methodist reverend and professor Laurence Hull Stookey suggested it comes from the term "God's Friday" and the fact that Good Friday worship and services are intended to focus on the theme of redemption.
Another theory is more specific to Catholicism. Traditionally, every Friday is sacred because Jesus died on a Friday. That's why many observant Catholics will fast and abstain from meat on Fridays year-round. With that in mind, the Friday before Easter Sunday, which commemorates Jesus' resurrection, is particularly meaningful, as it's the actual anniversary of his death. In remembering the sacrifices Jesus made for his followers' sins on this day, some will call it "good."
Of course, if you'd rather not call this Friday "good" at all, you have plenty of other options. The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions that, in the Greek Church, the holiday is known as "the Holy and Great Friday," while it's referred to as "Sorrowful Friday" in German.
"Good Friday" definitely feels more uplifting, but, if you ask us, "Sorrowful Friday" has a certain ring to it, too.

More from Spirit

R29 Original Series