LABELLE, FL. -- Today is Good Friday, a holy day celebrated by Christians on
the Friday before Easter or Pascha. It commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus
at Calvary. Special prayer services are often held on this day with readings
from the Gospel accounts of the events leading up to the crucifixion.
Mainstream Christian churches view Christ's crucifixion as a voluntary and
vicarious act, and one by which, along with resurrection on the third day,
death itself was conquered.
In many historically Christian countries such as England, Australia and New
Zealand, the day is observed as a public holiday. Most shops are closed for
the day and advertising from television and radio is withdrawn to some
degree. Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country, prohibits the sale of
alcohol on Good Friday. Almost all pubs and many restaurants in Ireland
close for the duration of the day. Eastern Orthodox Christians eat as little
as possible on this day while the Roman Catholic Church observes fasting and
abstinence for this day.
In Canada, Good Friday is a federal holiday as part of a 4-day weekend with
Easter Monday. Government offices (at all levels) and public sector
businesses are closed, along with most private sector businesses (except in
In the United States, the Constitutional prohibition on establishment of
religion does not allow Good Friday to be established as a federal holiday,
although many states observe it as a state holiday. U.S. governments are
also constitutionally prevented from forcing most private businesses to open
or close on any particular day, so the stock markets are usually closed on
Good Friday along with many other businesses - but most businesses are open
on Good Friday. Schools, including public schools, usually close on Good
Friday because so many children's families observe the holiday that there
would be no point for them to be open. The postal service operates, and
banks regulated by the federal government are not allowed to close. State
and local offices are closed in areas where it is a state holiday.