Good Friday in The Middle Ages

Good Friday is the day commemorating Jesus Christ’s burial in Christianity. It precedes Easter, which is the following Sunday. Often before the Easter holiday, Christians observe Lent for 40 days where they traditionally cannot eat meat except for fish. (It’s significance is that Jesus wandered in the desert for 40 days, fasting…) Today, many people choose to give up something else they enjoy, like chocolate, pizza, soda etc… for example.

In the middle ages, they celebrated Good Friday and Easter by attending special Church services.  They celebrated the three days before Easter too, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  It was known as the Triduum and medieval people attended church a lot on those days.

Services called Tenebrae (Latin for ‘darkness’) were held from Wednesday onward in Holy Week. Maundy Thursday would be a quiet, solemn service after which the altars were stripped down and covered in twigs and branches to symbolise the stripping and scourging of Jesus. Good Friday is a day of mourning, and generally speaking a day when nobody would use iron tools or nails. Many would begin by ‘creeping to the Cross’: just what it sounds like, approaching the cross barefoot and on their knees. There was no Eucharist on Friday, the Passion story was read from the Gospel of John, and the service was held almost completely in darkness, with one candleholder, called a Hearse, gradually put out to show that darkness was falling on the world—only the centremost candle remained lit, representing the light of Christ. Easter Sunday services would begin at dawn, with the congregation gathering outside the church to sing hymns. Then the priest would lead them into the church, where the service would be joyful, the Eucharist would return, and the people would be dismissed in grace and forgiveness to go and enjoy a big lunch.(

The services were in Latin, and many could not understand it! After, they all had a big feast after Lent was over. Also, similar to today, people received and wore new clothes for Easter. They even decorated eggs! The church had them red, to signify Christ’s blood, and some Germanic peoples dyed them green and hung them on trees. Adults even hid them like medieval Easter egg hunts!


About History Is Interesting

I like ancient and medieval history!
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