Good Friday 2023: When is it, is it a Bank Holiday and why you shouldn’t use it as a greeting this Easter

Good Friday is one of the most important dates of the Christian calendar - but why is it not considered a ‘happy’ day despite being a Bank Holiday? Here’s what you need to know.

The four-day Easter weekend is almost here - a time for celebration, a welcome break from work and school, and of course, indulgent chocolate eggs. The long weekend will kick off with Good Friday, which is also one of the most important dates in the Christian calendar.

But what is Good Friday, why is it celebrated and why should you not wish someone a “Happy Good Friday”? Here’s what you need to know about the Easter holiday.

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When is Good Friday and is it a Bank Holiday?

This year Good Friday lands on Friday, April 7. Good Friday always falls two days before Easter Sunday, which in 2023 lands on April 9.

Good Friday is a designated Bank Holiday which precedes a second Bank Holiday on Easter Monday (April 10). The early May Bank Holiday comes later, falling on May 1.

An additional Bank Holiday will occur on Monday, May 8 this year to commemorate the official coronation of King Charles III. In the UK, all schools are closed for Good Friday and most businesses treat it as a holiday for staff, though many retail stores remain open.

What happened on Good Friday?

Good Friday sees Christians around the world mourn and reflect on the day that Jesus Christ was crucified. According to Christian belief, Jesus sacrificed his own life so that everyone on Earth could be forgiven for their sins.

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The etymology of Good Friday originates from the religious use of the word “good”, which can be interpreted to mean “holy”. Christians believe that although Good Friday marks the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, it can be interpreted as good as it also marked the start of his resurrection.

What do people do on Good Friday?

Christians in different countries observe the anniversary of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday. The observance involves people fasting and praying with church services usually held in the afternoon, usually around noon to 3pm.

 Pilgrims celebrate Easter by carrying wooden crosses as they walk over the tidal causeway to Lindisfarne during the final leg of their annual Good Friday pilgrimage. Pilgrims celebrate Easter by carrying wooden crosses as they walk over the tidal causeway to Lindisfarne during the final leg of their annual Good Friday pilgrimage.
Pilgrims celebrate Easter by carrying wooden crosses as they walk over the tidal causeway to Lindisfarne during the final leg of their annual Good Friday pilgrimage. | Getty Images

Some people in the UK eat fish on Good Friday, a tradition that originates from the Christian belief that Jesus sacrificed his flesh on this day. Fish is viewed as a different kind of flesh, so is favoured over meat on Good Friday.

Why should you not wish someone a ‘Happy Good Friday’?

Good Friday is one of the most significant dates in the Christian calendar. But you shouldn’t wish someone who is observing a “Happy Good Friday”, as it is not a day of happiness but rather a day of mourning.

If you want to let your Christian friends know you’re thinking of them during this day, you could say “Have a blessed Good Friday”.

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