Dates for assembly

18th March 2005 at 00:00
Outline script for assembly leaders For most Christians, the main festival of the year isn't Christmas but Easter, when they celebrate their belief that Jesus triumphed over death and came back to life. But for Easter to happen, first there must be Good Friday, the day which marks his death by crucifixion.

Why this day should be called "Good" puzzles some people. One explanation is that, although it commemorates a sorrowful event, it is "good" because the crucifixion is necessary for there to be the joy and celebration of Easter. However, "Good Friday" is probably derived from its medieval name of "God's Friday". The Anglo-Saxons called it Long Friday.

Until quite recently, shops and places of entertainment never opened. Town centres were silent - at least until 3pm. It was also a day of fasting.

Even now, many people eat fish rather than meat on this day. Hot cross buns are still eaten, as they have been since the 17th century. Buns baked on Good Friday itself were supposed to bring good luck. If kept for some time, they were said to have healing qualities. This may not be nonsense, as the mould that grows on them is similar to penicillin.

As the crucifixion occurred on a Friday, all Fridays were thought by some to be unlucky. This belief is still widespread, especially when a Friday is also the thirteenth day of the month. This superstition stems from the fact that there were 13 people at the Last Supper.

In many churches, the main service on Good Friday takes place between midday and 3pm (the hours Jesus is said to have hung on the cross). In some towns there are Good Friday processions of witness, or re-enactments of the crucifixion.

Follow-up

Suppose local radio existed at the time of Jesus. Using the Gospel narratives and the following probable timetable, encourage pupils to retell the story of the first Good Friday in the format of hourly news summaries: l 3am: Jesus examined by High Priests. Dawn: Cock crows; Peter denies Christ. 6am: Jesus first taken before Pontius Pilate. 8am: Jesus is mocked and scourged. 9am: Jesus is taken to Golgotha. Noon: Jesus is nailed to the cross. 3pm: Jesus dies.

5pm: Jesus is buried.

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