Is Good Friday A Bank Holiday In The UK?
Good Friday in the UK is an optional public holiday and bank holiday according to Holidays 2025. All state schools and most businesses remain closed on this day. However, in Northern Ireland, the holiday is shifted to Easter Tuesday instead. Thus, the Government services operate per usual in the archipelagos. At the same time, most retail stores also remain open in the United Kingdoms.
Good Friday Celebrations In The UK
Good Friday traditions around the world are almost similar. Of course, there are differences in some observances, but certain
rituals are the same across the globe. On this day, the ceremony of the “Breaking of the Bread” is omitted in most churches.
Also, the chapels are shrouded in colour black, which is synonymous with Black Friday. The readings on this day include recounting the circumstances leading to the Passion from all four of the Gospels. The twelve readings begin from the Last Supper, cover the entire event of Crucifixion, and the burial of Jesus. Apart from these, there are certain Good Friday traditions exclusive only to the UK. They include:
The Crucifixion on Victoria Street
Every year, on Good Friday in the UK, a procession takes place in Westminster, which is open to all who wish to attend. This religious event is
ecumenical, i.e., brings together the different Christian denominations. As the clock strikes noon, a silent procession begins along Victoria
Street, from the Methodist Central Hall. At the front, someone carries a wooden cross, just as Jesus once carried the cross for his Crucifixion.
The procession halts at the Westminster Cathedral, where the cross is raised at its entrance, and a service held. After a meditation by the Canon of Westminster, the procession continues to Westminster Abbey, where the cross-bearer is the first to enter the Anglican church, followed by the rest of the congregation. The service held here ends with “The Solemn Liturgy of the Passion and Death of Our Lord.”
Distribution Of Hot Cross Buns
Hot cross buns have a special significance amongst the Good Friday traditions. Each component of these spiced sweet buns has a meaning attached to them.
The cross on their top signifies the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified, while the spices represent the spices used to embalm his body. The Butterworth
Charity and The Widow’s Son pub both famously host the hot cross buns distribution ceremony.
The former takes place in front of the ‘Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great’ in Cloth Fair, West Smithfield. It follows an old tradition of Good Friday in the UK, which was of giving money to 21 poor widows in Smithfield, and buns to the children. Today, enough loaves are baked that they can be distributed to the entire congregation and the clergy.
The Widow’s Son pub is built on the place where once a poor widow used to live with her only son. Her son, a naval officer, left home one day saying that he will come back on Easter. The widow baked the Hot cross buns on Good Friday to prepare for her son’s arrival, but he did not return. The widow still kept up the ritual until she died, and ever since the pub has continued this ritual for the widow’s son.
One bun, which is baked especially for this purpose, is placed in a net above the bar every year. A member of the Royal Navy is especially invited for this purpose, a different member each year. The rest is distributed amongst the people.
Why Is This Solemn Day Called “Good” Friday?
There are two verified reasons behind the day coming to be called Good Friday. One such claim states that the term is actually a corruption of “God Friday”, much like the word ‘goodbye’ is a contraction of ‘God be with you’. Another reason behind this day being called Good Friday is that the word ‘good’ means pious or holy. Other names for the commemoration include Black Friday, Holy Friday, Great Friday, Long Friday, and so on.
Good Friday Bible Story & Message
The story in the New Testament corresponding with the Good Friday is a well known one. The accounts of John, Matthew, Luke, and Mark may differ in the particulars of what happened,
however, the basics are the same throughout. Let us take a quick glimpse at the Good Friday Bible Story given below:
During the Last Supper (also the Lord’s Supper), Jesus Christ broke a piece of bread. This was distributed amongst his disciples, to which Jesus said that it was his body. He then blessed a cup of water and gave it to them, saying that it was his blood of the covenant. The Saviour asked his apostles to do this in his remembrance and then continued to predict that one of them would betray him before the next morning. However, the accounts differ on whether Jesus named the betrayer or not.
The Denial of Peter was also foretold at this time, as the Son of God claimed that one of them will deny him thrice before the rooster crowed the next morning. The entire night was filled with teachings from Christ who prepared for his fate, which was already known to him. The Redeemer washed the feet of his disciples and asked them to love each other as he had loved them after Judas left them. As Jesus and his disciples take a walk in the garden, Judas kisses Christ and calls him ‘Rabbi’. Thereby, he revealed the Good Shepherd to the guards from whom Judas had taken 30 silver pieces for this betrayal.
Then occurs the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus, where the priests kept bringing forth fake witnesses. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, washed his hands off the case claiming Jesus was innocent. Despite that, he still handed the Redeemer over to the crowd for Crucifixion, to safeguard his seat and avoid a riot. The mockery of Jesus is next in the line of events and he is crowned the King of Jews by placing a crown of thorns on his head. He is then forced to carry the cross on which he would be crucified, but due to the torture and beatings, was unable to do so, at which the guards compel Simon of Cyrene to help Jesus out.
At Calvary, Jesus is crucified along with two other thieves, and everyone mocked him claiming that if he truly was Son of God then he should come down the cross, after all, he had rebuilt the entire church in three days. For nine hours, Jesus remained in agony, after the sixth hour of which darkness had fallen across the grounds. As the ninth hour finished, Jesus called out to his Father, “‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” As he called out, Jesus died and several things happened at the very moment – the temple veil was torn from top to bottom, the Earth shook, and rocks split open, as did many graves. This Crucifixion is commemorated on the God Friday, commonly Good Friday. Three days later, when Jesus was resurrected as he had once predicted, is celebrated as Easter Sunday.
Good Friday Bible Story Verses
The leading 12 verses which recite this Good Friday Bible Story are:
1. John 13:31 - 18:1
2. John 18:1 - 28
3. Matthew 26:57 - 75
4. John 18:28 - 19:16
5. Matthew 27:3 - 32
6. Mark 15:16 - 32
7. Matthew 27:33 - 54
8. Luke 23:32 - 49
9. John 19:25 - 37
10. Mark 15:43 - 47
11. John 19:38 - 42
12. Matthew 27:62 - 66
Are Pubs Open on Good Friday in the UK?
Good Friday is a solemn celebration, which is a public holiday in the UK (except Scotland). As such, horse racing, betting, and other such activities were earlier banned in the United Kingdoms; however, things have changed with time. Alcohol sales are also not prohibited in the UK any longer. The only restrictions are in the Northern Isles, where alcohol on Good Friday can only be served from 5 pm to 11 pm. On the days before and after (which are Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday, respectively) bars have to stop serving by midnight.
Good Friday Observances
1. Is Good Friday a day off?
Good Friday is a public holiday in 11 states. All state schools and most businesses remain closed on this day.
2. Do you get paid on Good Friday?
As per Government, which sets bank holidays, employees are not automatically entitled to bank holidays off as paid leave.
3. Is Good Friday a federal holiday?
No, Good Friday is not a federal holiday.
4. Why is Good Friday a holiday?
This is the day that Christians observe the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which plays a major part of the Christian faith.
Good Friday Celebrations in Other Countries
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