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Doug Livingston wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • I know that Good Friday originated when Jesus died on the Cross but when was it first called Good Friday and who gave it that name?

Any of the historical context would be appreciated.

Thank you,

Doug

  { When was Good Friday first called 'Good' Friday and who gave it that name? }

Mike replied:

Hi Doug,

The best I can do, unless my colleagues have something to add, is what the 1909 Catholic Encyclopedia has to say on this issue:

Under Good Friday

Under Definition and etymology

From the earliest times the Christians kept every Friday as a feast day; and the obvious reasons for those usages explain why Easter is the Sunday par excellence, and why the Friday which marks the anniversary of Christ's death came to be called the Great or the Holy or the Good Friday.

The origin of the term Good is not clear.

Some say it is from God's Friday (Gottes Freitag); others maintain that it is from the German Gute Freitag, and not specially English. Sometimes, too, the day was called Long Friday by the Anglo-Saxons; so today in Denmark.

James Akin in one of his blogs on the National Catholic Register says:

Why is this day called Good Friday

It's not for the reason you might think.

Despite the fact that good is a common English word, tempting us to say the name is based on the fact that something very good (our redemption) happened on this day, that's not where the name comes from.

Precisely where it does come from is disputed. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains:

The origin of the term Good is not clear. Some say it is from God's Friday (Gottes Freitag); others maintain that it is from the German Gute Freitag, and not specially English.

It is also argued that the name is based on a Medieval use of the word good where it meant holy. Thus Good Friday would have come from Holy Friday, the same way we have Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday.

I hope this helps,

Mike

Doug replied:

Mike,

Thank you for the information.

Doug

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