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Orthodox Good Friday in the United States

Orthodox Christian churches in the United States generally observe Good Friday at a later date than the Good Friday date observed by many western churches. Good Friday focuses on Jesus Christ’s death, which is described in the Christian bible. The day is also known as Great Friday, Holy Friday, and Holy and Great Friday.

Many people of the Orthodox Christian faith remember Jesus' death on the cross on Great Friday.
Many people of the Orthodox Christian faith remember Jesus' death on the cross on Great Friday.
©iStockphoto.com/paulgeor

What Do People Do?

Great Friday is a strict day of fasting for many Greek Orthodox Christians in the United States. Some Orthodox churches begin observing Holy Friday on Thursday night where the liturgy’s main feature is the reading of 12 sections from the gospels, all of which are accounts of Jesus Christ’s passion. Other churches may have a Good Friday liturgy in the evening.  Some priests remove icons of Jesus from crosses and wrap them in linen to reenact ancient burial rites.

Some Orthodox Bulgarian churches have special traditions, which include allowing people to pass under a table in the middle of the church and light a candle after the church bell rings. This ritual is believed to wash away one’s sins. Many families of the Orthodox Christian faith may spend time on Great Friday to decorate Easter eggs as part of the Easter preparations.

Public Life

Great Friday is not a federal public holiday in the United States. However parking conditions may be affected near churches where Great Friday liturgies are held, particularly in busy urban areas.

Background

Many Orthodox churches retained the Julian calendar after the Gregorian calendar was introduced in Europe in 1582. Therefore they often follow a different Easter date compared with many western churches. Easter holidays, such as Good Friday, are “moveable feasts” as these dates change according to calendar calculations.

There are different types of Orthodox churches that are well-established in the United States, including the Greek Hellenic Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, and the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian Orthodox Church in North America can be traced back to the late 18th century, where a Russian church was built on Kodiak Island in Alaska during that period.  Alaska was previously part of Russia until the United States bought the land. The number of Greek Orthodox churches grew as Greek immigration increased after the late 19th century in the United States.

Symbols

Many Orthodox Christian families prepare Easter eggs, which are beautifully decorated and often dyed red to symbolize the Jesus Christ’s blood.

About Orthodox Good Friday in other countries

Read more about Orthodox Good Friday.

Orthodox Good Friday Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday TypeWhere It is Observed
FriApr 22010Orthodox Good FridayOrthodox 
FriApr 222011Orthodox Good FridayOrthodox 
FriApr 132012Orthodox Good FridayOrthodox 
FriMay 32013Orthodox Good FridayOrthodox 
FriApr 182014Orthodox Good FridayOrthodox 
FriApr 102015Orthodox Good FridayOrthodox 
FriApr 292016Orthodox Good FridayOrthodox 
FriApr 142017Orthodox Good FridayOrthodox 
FriApr 62018Orthodox Good FridayOrthodox 
FriApr 262019Orthodox Good FridayOrthodox 
FriApr 172020Orthodox Good FridayOrthodox 

Quick Facts

Many Orthodox Christians in the United States remember the events leading up to Jesus Christ's crucifixion on Great Friday.

Orthodox Good Friday 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

Orthodox Good Friday 2017

Friday, April 14, 2017

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Name in other languages

NameLanguage
Orthodox Good FridayEnglish
Viernes Santo OrtodoxoSpanish
יום שישי טוב אורתודוקסיHebrew
الأرثوذكسية الجمعة العظيمةArabic
정교회 성 금요일Korean
LangfredagNorwegian
Orthodoxer KarfreitagGerman

List of dates for other years

Related holidays

Other holidays in April 2016 in the United States

United Nation Holiday on April 29, 2016

Fun Holiday on April 29, 2016

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