Today is Good Friday, when Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Good Friday is part of Holy Week, in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter. It includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) and Good Friday, and lasts from Palm Sunday until but not including Easter Sunday, as Easter Sunday is the first day of the new season of The Great Fifty Days. It commemorates the last week of the earthly life of Jesus Christ before his crucifixion on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Holy Week in the Christian year is the week immediately before Easter. The earliest catholic allusion to the custom of marking this week as a whole with special observances is to be found in the Apostolical Constitutions, dating from the latter half of the 3rd century and 4th century. In this text, abstinence from flesh is commanded for all the days, while for the Friday and Sunday an absolute fast is commanded. Dionysius Alexandrinus in his canonical epistle, refers to the 91 fasting days implying that the observance of them had already become an established usage in his time.
There is some doubt about the genuineness of an ordinance attributed to <>, in which abstinence from public business was enforced for the seven days immediately preceding Easter Sunday, and also for the seven which followed it; the Codex Theodosianus, however, is explicit in ordering that all actions at law should cease, and the doors of all courts of law be closed during those 15 days. Of the particular days of the “great week” the earliest to emerge into special prominence was naturally Good Friday. Next came the Sabbatum Magnum (Holy Saturday or Easter Eve) with its vigil, which in the early church was associated with an expectation that the second advent would occur on an Easter Sunday.
Observances vary widely around the world, often incorporating elements of local pre-Christian traditions, and range from the elaborate and fanciful to simple and reverential. Here’re some great photographs from this year’s Holy Week around the world. (20 images, 5 pages) [Holy Week via Boston]