In the Christian religion, Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. As early as the 1st century, the Christian church set aside every Friday as a special day of prayer and fasting. It was not until the 4th century, however, that Christians began observing the Friday before Easter as the day associated with the crucifixion of Christ.
Cimabue (Italian Byzantine Style Painter, 1240-1302) Crucifix (detail) 1268-71
Good Friday is the most solemn day in the Christian calendar. First called Holy or Great Friday by the Greek Church, the name "Good Friday" was adopted by the Roman Church around the 6th or 7th century.
Lucas Cranach the Elder (German Northern Renaissance Painter, 1472-1553) Christ Crowned with Thorns c 1510
There are two possible origins for the name "Good Friday". The first may have come from the Gallican Church in Gaul (modern-day France and Germany). The name "Gute Freitag" is Germanic in origin and literally means "good" or "holy" Friday. The 2nd possibility is a variation on the name "God's Friday," where the word "good" was used to replace the word "God," which was often viewed as too holy to be spoken aloud.
Unknown Flemish painter, Jesus Late 1500s
Good Friday rituals and traditions are somber. To many Christians, Good Friday is a day of sorrow mingled with hope, a time to grieve for mankind's failings and for the suffering of Jesus and to meditate upon the ultimate redemption of loving and of forgiving ourselves and others.
Petrus Christus (Netherlandish painter, active c 1444–1476 Bruges) Head of Christ c 1445
Giovanni Bellini (Italian painter, 1430-1516) Christ's Blessing 1460
Sandro Botticelli (Italian Early Renaissance Painter, c 1445-1510) Christ Crowned with Thorns. 1500