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Good Friday 2024

Authored by British Online Archives
Published on 29th March, 2024 3 min read

Good Friday 2024

Good Friday (29/03/2024) is one of the most significant days in the Christian calendar, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Observed during Holy Week, the most sacred week in the liturgical year for Christians, Good Friday occurs three days before Easter Sunday, commemorating Jesus’ journey from crucifixion to resurrection. Due to it always preceding Easter by three days, Good Friday is (like Easter) a "moveable feast", with the exact day differing each year depending on the Gregorian calendar for Western Christians and the Julian calendar for Eastern Orthodox Christians.

While the word “Good” might be considered a strange choice of words to use when describing a crucifixion, it is understood in its Christian context as meaning “holy” or “pious”. For Roman Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Reformed and Anglican Christians, Good Friday is widely observed as a fast day, similar to Ash Wednesday. Large processions are also held in many countries, often reflecting Jesus’ journey towards Calvary, the site of his crucifixion.

In the UK and in many other Commonwealth countries, hot cross buns are the traditional snack of choice for Good Friday, with their culinary composition supposedly signifying the holy day: a piped cross of shortcrust pastry to signify Jesus’ cross, spices to signify the embalming spices used during Jesus’ burial, and even the occasional orange peel to reflect the bitterness of his time on the cross. 

The exact origin of these spiced rolls, as with much of the traditions associated with the Easter period, is disputed. While they are most commonly associated with Christianity nowadays, some historians have linked the baked buns to the pagan Saxons, who marked sweet rolls with a cross at the beginning of spring to honour the goddess Eostre, a likely source for where we get the word “Easter”. 

Regardless of their exact origin, the rolls have become a staple Easter dish for centuries and the peculiar mythology surrounding these baked goods is surprisingly in-depth. Historical records have seen the buns serve a variety of purposes throughout the centuries, from acting as floury talismans hung in kitchens to keep out evil spirits, to sailors reportedly taking them on long voyages to act as good luck charms offering protection against shipwrecks. 

The history of the hot cross bun took another interesting turn in the sixteenth century when they were almost banned outright by Queen Elizabeth I. The specific reason behind this ban is not known. Some suggest that Elizabeth deemed them too sacred to be eaten on any other day besides Good Friday, Christmas Day, or for burials. Nevertheless, the Elizabethans got around this ban by simply baking their own buns at home. If caught they risked all sweet rolls found on their premises being seized and distributed amongst the poor. 

 To all those who celebrate it, British Online Archives would like to wish everyone a peaceful Good Friday. 

Authored by British Online Archives

British Online Archives

British Online Archives provides unique collections of primary source documents for students and researchers studying the Humanities and Social Sciences.

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Notable Days


The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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