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Good Friday Etiquette Question


Tohru
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Do most people 'observe' Good Friday? Would it not be ideal to have a party that day, specifically, a child's birthday party?

 

 

 

 

ETA: To correct wording of 'celebrate' to 'observe'.

Sorry to offend - I don't even know what it is, just saw it on the calendar and have heard that it is a Christian day.

 

 

Edited by Tohru
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I've never lived in a place where Good Friday was widely observed and I wouldn't be surprised by a party that day in most of the US. There are some parts of the US where I'd choose a different day if it were clear that a lot of kids wouldn't be able to be there.  It really just depends on your particular community.

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Do most people celebrate Good Friday? Would it not be ideal to have a party that day, specifically, a child's birthday party?

Not 'celebrate' -- observe.

 

I think a party would be in bad taste. Many secular schools and businesses either give day off or allow people to leave/have flexible hours, so even non observers are aware of significance. For liturgical Christians, church service is customarily three hours, beginning at noon. Some may attend a shorter service also. For many -- fasting or very, very simple food.

 

Even people who skip going to church many Sundays will go on Good Friday.

 

Birthday party? No, just no.

 

I presume your child has a birthday coming up? The week before Easter is Holy Week, not a party time. The week after is fine. One consolation is that is very unusual for Easter to be so early, so other years would not have same problem.

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Some close family friends have planned a memorial (in lieu of a funeral) for that Saturday.  I know you're talking about a party and Good Friday; maybe it's similar?  They do not practice any particular faith, so I get it.  I didn't when I was growing up either.  

 

The timing of this memorial is going to make our family's life extremely chaotic for a few days--at a time that I would wish for some peace, focus, and time to attend church--and, selfishly, I really wish they had picked a different weekend.  We can't and won't miss the memorial because their loved one was monumental in our lives and we want to be there for them.  It is important.  The family has been waiting a year to plan this memorial, due to several complicated health reasons.  

 

But because of Easter and faith-related commitments to other family members that were made several months ago, we'll be traveling between 3 towns, each 3 hours apart, in 2 days.  Late nights, meaningful connections...Our kids are younger, so it's a lot.  These Easter-related commitments are only going to happen once in the lives of 5 of our family members and we are part of this central event happening (i.e, we cannot not be there), so it's not like we can just push it off until next year.  

 

To put it in perspective, Holy Week is equally important, if not possibly more important, than Christmas to many Christians.  Not really saying anything controversial here--people are obviously free to plan anything at any time.  Hope it adds some perspective--  

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Yes, I'm not sure many non-Christians understand this, because Christmas is such a huge deal these days. But for an observant Christian, Holy Week (Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter) has much more spiritual significance than Christmas... though we like Christmas too. :)

Exactly. Easter is the feast of feasts.

 

The time before Christmas is not Christmas. It is Advent, a penitential season. Christmas Day and the time after Christmas is the Christmas season. I couldn't agree with you more!

Edited by Alessandra
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(I should probably mention that I think it's only Western Christians [Roman Catholics and Protestants] who observe Holy Week. I think Eastern Christians [Orthodox] observe at a different date???)

Orthodox Christians observe Holy Week more thoroughly than western ones -- more and longer church services, stricter fasting -- but the calendars do not quite align, so EO Pascha will usually at a different date. Plus Lazarus Saturday and Holy Saturday have more significance.

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Good Friday is an important observance to me.  But I don't think it's inappropriate or disrespectful for someone to plan a party on Good Friday especially since many USians don't observe the day at all.  Christmas is a broader cultural tradition in the US as is Easter Sunday to some extent, but Holy Week isn't. Most people in the US don't get school or work off on that day. In many parts of the US there's really no reason to not have a party that day.

 

I don't think about planning around Eid al-Adha in the US unless there are a lot of Muslim kids in the neighborhood.  I don't worry about Yom Kippur if there aren't Jewish kids we're inviting.  Those are highly significant holy days for Muslims and Jews, but there's no reason why the greater community around those people should be expected to close down too.

 

As a religious person, I figure there are going to be times when we can't do things because of our religious commitments.  It seems odd to me that people would expect their wider, non-religious community to not plan a party on a significant holy day.

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I grew up in the Bible Belt. We didn't have school off then. My Southern Baptist parents and church did not observe it beyond mentioning it in the sermon on Wednesday and Sunday. Depends on what flavor Christian your kids' friends are. If it's a small group, send out an email and ask if it people would be able to attend that day. I don't think it's insensitive. You don't have to plan around other people's observances. You shouldn't feel badly if people choose not to attend though. 

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My sister in law is getting married on good Friday. They are committed Christians both on staff at a large evangelical church. I told her the reasons why I didn't think it was a good idea, but they are sticking with it and I got over it. In one respect, for Christians, really, every day is good Friday. Every day is Easter Sunday. That's true in my church--we Preach Christ crucified every Sunday and not much is different on Easter.

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Clearly there is a diversity of opinions here. Your best bet is to casually check in with your invitees - and do it fast, because the date is rapidly approaching!

 

Also, to second what was said upthread: One observes Good Friday (or doesn't), one doesn't celebrate it. As a general multi-religion rule of thumb, holidays that are all about eating are celebrated, and holidays that are not about eating (or, especially, are about fasting or abstaining from certain foods!) are observed. Thus one celebrates Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, Diwali, and Thanksgiving (though probably not all at once), but observes Good Friday, Yom Kippur, and Veteran's Day.

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Do most people celebrate Good Friday? Would it not be ideal to have a party that day, specifically, a child's birthday party?

 

They planned our Neighborhood Garage Sale last year on the Friday-Saturday before Easter and had VERY poor attendance. I would not be offended if someone planned a birthday party on March 25 (Good Friday). Even as a Christian, there was a time in my life we did not really observe the whole week, just Easter Sunday itself. Now, we would simply decline to attend.

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I'd guess like anything religious, it's regional and only important depending on your social circle (party invitees in this case). I have no idea what the day is; it just made for extra day off at school growing up. Then again, I very nearly once told a customer she had a smudge on her face--apparently I (or really, she) lucked out that I didn't have the chance, because I later learned that it was Ash Wednesday (?) and she had done that on purpose. Lol. I'd never heard of such a thing or seen it since. So yeah, it's only a regional consideration I'd think. :)

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I grew up baptist and now attend a church of Christ, I would not be offended nor keep my kids from attending a party that day. Schools around here do usually have spring break around Easter so that could affect party attendance if families in your circle tend to travel.

 

I think if you have church going friends you should ask them, especially if you would be disappointed if they can't attend.

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If I was in a heavily Catholic area or Episcopalian area,  I probably wouldn't do it.  If a lot of the people I was going to invite observed Good Friday, I probably wouldn't.

 

My only other caution would be that DD's bday is two days before 4th of July.  We've learned not to host her bday parties then because too many people travel for 4th of July.  I"m assuming it's similar for Easter/Spring Break. 

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(I should probably mention that I think it's only Western Christians [Roman Catholics and Protestants] who observe Holy Week. I think Eastern Christians [Orthodox] observe at a different date???)

 

The dates between East and West align perfectly some years...and some years, they are weeks apart.  Like this year.  Orthodox Pascha is May 1 this year, about as late as it gets.  

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To the OP:  

 

One other thing about Western Good Friday this year is that it is also the Feast of the Annunciation, which is when the Angel announced to Mary the incarnation, awaiting her "fiat."  The Annunciation is actually a bigger deal than Christmas, at least in Catholic and Orthodox tradition (and countries), so you kind of have a double dose of High Holy Day on this particular year.  

 

 

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Most Catholics I know would be unable to attend. All Fridays of lent are days of fasting and abstaining and good Friday usually means time are church.

 

Apparently how Catholics practice the religion has changed in the years since I left the Church. Or, maybe people are more devout than the ones I knew growing up*. I grew up in an area with mostly European Catholic immigrants or children of immigrants (specifically in my neighborhood Irish and Italian, though there was a small population of Hungarian Catholics too). We did not "celebrate" Good Friday other than the Catholic schools had the day off (and Holy Thursday as well), and we didn't eat meat. We did not fast, only abstained from eating meat. Most Catholics I knew growing up went to mass that day, but other than that it was a normal day. We would have gone to birthday parties  (and probably did though my memory is fuzzy). The only adjustment would have been if meat was served we wouldn't eat it. But since most everyone we knew was Catholic anyway, meat was unlikely to be served.

 

BTW, pretty much the only Catholics I knew back then* were cradle Catholics. I imagine my parents knew non-Catholic Christians but they weren't a part of our social circle. It was a pretty closed ethnic circle.

 

I also wonder about other Christians celebrating Good Friday and if that's a more recent thing as well. When we moved to Florida and I met my first non-Catholic Christians (really, everyone in our NJ circle was either Catholic or Jewish), they barely acknowledged Good Friday. The (few)  Catholics we knew here went to mass. The others didn't go to any service. Easter was the important day for them, and they didn't celebrate any form of Holy Week.

 

Of course in the last decade or so I've met a number of people who converted to Catholicism. As a general rule they tend to be more devout than those raised in it from birth. That's a huge generalization, I know, but it's my experience. I acknowledge that yours might be very different.

 

*"Growing up" and "back then", refers to pre and just barely post Vatican II. 

Edited by Lady Florida
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Good Friday, the day, used to be a holy day that we observed.  We would never have planned a party on that day, would always attend a service, and would be mindful of what it meant.  If our kids had been invited to a birthday party that day, I probably would have let them go as long as it didn't interfere with our Good Friday plans.

 

Interestingly, in our community, it was the Lutherans and Catholics (the churches my husband and I grew up in) who set Good Friday aside to observe.  But the two non-denominational Christian churches didn't do much at all.

 

As our kids grew up and were involved in activities and then jobs and just life in general, that changed for us.  There were swim meets and track meets and jobs and all kinds of things that kept happening despite the day.  I guess eventually we just gave up on the idea of observing that one day.  Not that what it stands for is any less meaningful, of course.  But I guess what I mean is that we are very mindful of the crucifixion and what that means in our faith throughout the year, and no longer feel we absolutely have to observe the one day of Good Friday.

 

I still wouldn't feel comfortable hosting a party on Good Friday though.

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It's not just the liturgical wing of Christianity that's affected.  Some of us in the evangelical wing observe it too.  Some don't. I attend an evening church service and have no dietary restrictions, so a birthday party in the afternoon or during the day wouldn't be in conflict for us.  We would go to the party then to church. Also, since my husband isn't a Christian, it would be no big deal to have him take the kid to a b-day party in the evening while I attend church services.  Our kids have the option of going with me or staying with dad for any and all church related activities with no negativity from either of us either way.

 

You can plan a party any day you like.  People can attend or not attend if they like.  Just be realistic; a lot of people who observe Good Friday will be very unlikely to attend.  People who don't observe Good Friday will be more likely to attend.

My older two have birthdays on Jan. 1st and Nov. 23rd (close to or on Thanksgiving.) We have to be realistic.  Many people travel or have holiday plans on or around that time.  My youngest has a July 24th birthday-usually the first week of school  around here because most ps is on a modified year round schedule so the weekend before is hectic for most people doing last minute back to school errands.That's just how it is.  We plan accordingly.

 

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For the record, although I am Orthodox now, and have been since 2007, I was raised Methodist and then was Presbyterian until I was 50.  And not to toot a horn or anything, but to note the way we observed the day, we *always* went to church; it was at noon or three pm until the past 15-20 years and then it was in the evening.  School was always cancelled, and I myself never worked on Good Friday.  

 

That said, I am aware that the world has changed a lot, and that there are a lot of Christians who do not observe the day.  My reason for posting was to note that at least in my day, it wasn't just the Catholics or the Orthodox who observed the day.  

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I also wonder about other Christians celebrating Good Friday and if that's a more recent thing as well. When we moved to Florida and I met my first non-Catholic Christians (really, everyone in our NJ circle was either Catholic or Jewish), they barely acknowledged Good Friday. The (few)  Catholics we knew here went to mass. The others didn't go to any service. Easter was the important day for them, and they didn't celebrate any form of Holy Week.

 

 

 

Yes, this is what I've seen as well.  It actually really surprised me!  The two non-denominational Christian churches in our town, which are considered the biggest Bible-thumping churches in in our area (sorry -- I really don't mean that in a bad way  -- I just can't think of a better way to describe it so that people know what I mean   :)) barely give Good Friday a nod.  It seems to be a much more important day for the Catholics and Lutherans.

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Do "most" people celebrate it?  Well, I guess it depends on your group of friends. I don't know anyone who does, to my knowledge.  TBH, I don't know when it is, other than...a Friday?  So, I wouldn't be taking it into account when it comes to attending or hosting a party.

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The dates between East and West align perfectly some years...and some years, they are weeks apart.  Like this year.  Orthodox Pascha is May 1 this year, about as late as it gets.

 

Passover is much later than Easter as well. Usually they coincide. I actually looked up the NYC public school calendar to see how they handle this! Spring break is over Passover this year, but the schools also take Good Friday off. Which I guess is how it always is, but it's not normally so striking :)

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Yes, this is what I've seen as well.  It actually really surprised me!  The two non-denominational Christian churches in our town, which are considered the biggest Bible-thumping churches in in our area (sorry -- I really don't mean that in a bad way  -- I just can't think of a better way to describe it so that people know what I mean   :)) barely give Good Friday a nod.  It seems to be a much more important day for the Catholics and Lutherans.

 

And some denominations oppose the observation of any day as special beyond the weekly Lord's Day.  So they would cry "anathema!" to making any special accommodation to observing the day.  This includes Christmas and Easter.  

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And some denominations oppose the observation of any day as special beyond the weekly Lord's Day. So they would cry "anathema!" to making any special accommodation to observing the day. This includes Christmas and Easter.

Laura can probably say more about this, but there are some Scottish Presbyterian groups and individuals who do nothing about Christmas.

 

That can apply even here in the U.S. I remember years ago thinking I could persuade some non liturgical family members to go to church on Christmas. So I called the big, fashionable Presbyterian church that family went to once in a while. No service on Christmas. The minister was from Scotland.

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I'm in the Bible Belt, and few people observe Good Friday in a serious manner. I'm Presbyterian, and growing up we would sometimes have a Maundy Thursday service, sometimes not, and never anything on Good Friday. Most of the church Easter Egg hunts are on the Saturday directly before Easter, which seems inappropriate to me, but that's how it is.

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I nixed a possible weekend get-away date with my Bunco gfs because the Sunday fell on Palm Sunday. OTOH, not every Bunco Babe observes Palm Sunday; some don't attend any church. But I was confident that some do and in any case, I know my family will go to church that day. I picked other dates so it wouldn't present any dilemma for anyone.

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As a Catholic that observes Good Friday, I would not attend.  However, I would not frown down on someone else who chooses to celebrate a birthday.  I have many friends who are either not Christian or Christian but do not observe Lent or Good Friday, and I've been invited to various events on Good Friday.  I just decline.  

 

If many of your intended guests are Christian, I would hesitate to have a birthday party.  The other issue is that people may be traveling or having guests for Easter.  Often I will not have a party on a holiday weekend unless it's for that holiday because most people would not be able to make it.

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Apparently how Catholics practice the religion has changed in the years since I left the Church. Or, maybe people are more devout than the ones I knew growing up*. I grew up in an area with mostly European Catholic immigrants or children of immigrants (specifically in my neighborhood Irish and Italian, though there was a small population of Hungarian Catholics too). We did not "celebrate" Good Friday other than the Catholic schools had the day off (and Holy Thursday as well), and we didn't eat meat. We did not fast, only abstained from eating meat. Most Catholics I knew growing up went to mass that day, but other than that it was a normal day. We would have gone to birthday parties  (and probably did though my memory is fuzzy). The only adjustment would have been if meat was served we wouldn't eat it. But since most everyone we knew was Catholic anyway, meat was unlikely to be served.

 

BTW, pretty much the only Catholics I knew back then* were cradle Catholics. I imagine my parents knew non-Catholic Christians but they weren't a part of our social circle. It was a pretty closed ethnic circle.

 

I also wonder about other Christians celebrating Good Friday and if that's a more recent thing as well. When we moved to Florida and I met my first non-Catholic Christians (really, everyone in our NJ circle was either Catholic or Jewish), they barely acknowledged Good Friday. The (few)  Catholics we knew here went to mass. The others didn't go to any service. Easter was the important day for them, and they didn't celebrate any form of Holy Week.

 

Of course in the last decade or so I've met a number of people who converted to Catholicism. As a general rule they tend to be more devout than those raised in it from birth. That's a huge generalization, I know, but it's my experience. I acknowledge that yours might be very different.

 

*"Growing up" and "back then", refers to pre and just barely post Vatican II. 

 

Every Friday during Lent is a day of abstinence (no meat).  Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are also fast days.  Good Friday is the only day of the year that there is no Mass celebrated.  There is Good Friday liturgy but no consecration; the Eucharist would have been consecrated on Holy Thursday.

 

I find practices and customs seem to differ greatly around the country.  I don't live in an area with a large Catholic population, but growing up, and even now, the Catholics I know wouldn't attend a party on Good Friday.  It's a very solemn day.  In fact, many observe silence between 12:00 and 3:00 pm.  Plus, it wouldn't be much fun if you couldn't eat any cake.  My aunt was Episcopal, and she observed Good Friday in the same manner.

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I don't think there is anything wrong with having a party on Good Friday if that is not part of your religious observances. I don't see it as "in poor taste", but you would need to be prepared to have very low attendance and be understanding of why others may choose not to attend.

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Not in my experience.  There are no specific restrictions on birthday cake. 

 

Depends on the age. Kids under a certain age don't fast. Kids over a certain age and adults eat only one small meal and two snacks that day. And no meat. Although I guess one could say cake isn't technically prohibited it goes against the spirit of a fast day. 

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Depends on the age. Kids under a certain age don't fast. Kids over a certain age and adults eat only one small meal and two snacks that day. And no meat. Although I guess one could say cake isn't technically prohibited it goes against the spirit of a fast day. 

 

A friend of mine isn't allowed dairy or sweets in addition to meat on that day.  There might be other restrictions too, I'm not sure.  Probably eggs.

 

I grew up not having any dietary restrictions on any day, but we did take Good Friday seriously in other ways.

Edited by SKL
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Check with the group of folks you'd be inviting. It may turn out that no one you know has an issue with that day!

 

I grew up observing Lent, but that only meant going to church in the evening [southern California Presbyterian, here].  If there was school on that day, I was expected to be at school.  No dietary restrictions.  But my parents also didn't allow for any parties on the Saturday between GF and Easter.  Since my birthday is in April, that caused some problems over the years.  But that was the rule.  They wouldn't have allowed me to go anywhere but church on the night of Good Friday.

 

My mother-in-law [southern Baptist] doesn't observe it at all and seems to go out of her way to do something on that night.  She doesn't do Ash Wednesday, Lent or Advent either.  It's too Catholic for her. 

 

I live in the South, now, and my Presby church does observe Holy Week, including a very somber GF service. But I know there are other churches in my area who are gearing up for Easter with nothing else, other than regular Sunday services, in between now and then.

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Good Friday is an important observance to me.  But I don't think it's inappropriate or disrespectful for someone to plan a party on Good Friday especially since many USians don't observe the day at all.  Christmas is a broader cultural tradition in the US as is Easter Sunday to some extent, but Holy Week isn't. Most people in the US don't get school or work off on that day. In many parts of the US there's really no reason to not have a party that day.

 

I don't think about planning around Eid al-Adha in the US unless there are a lot of Muslim kids in the neighborhood.  I don't worry about Yom Kippur if there aren't Jewish kids we're inviting.  Those are highly significant holy days for Muslims and Jews, but there's no reason why the greater community around those people should be expected to close down too.

 

As a religious person, I figure there are going to be times when we can't do things because of our religious commitments.  It seems odd to me that people would expect their wider, non-religious community to not plan a party on a significant holy day.

 

Thank you. This puts it into perspective.

 

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I  am a Christian.  I don't have a problem with doing stuff on Good Friday.  I personally don't believe Jesus died on a Friday. However, because so many around me do observe that day as important I try to respect their beliefs by not planning things on that day.  If I do have plans I don't talk about them so as not to cause offense. Maybe you could get a feel for how those that you want to invite feel about it

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Can I ask a s/o question ?

 

If you are Christian and you don't observe Good Friday, what is the reason behind that ? 

 

I can't quite get my mind around being a follower of Jesus and not observing the day he was crucified as a day of meditation on suffering and sorrow.

 

Just curious, not arguing :) It's a public holiday here in secular Australia and I grew up considering Good Friday a key holy day, going to Mass for the Stations of the Cross etc.

 

I grew up Presbyterian....whatever the liberal version is (can't remember if it was PCA vs PCUSA or if those even existed when I was a kid.)  We never did anything for Good Friday.  My family never got ashes on Ash Wednesday, but I totally remember getting palms on Palm Sunday as a kid. (Not so exciting now that I live in Florida. :))     We never gave up anything for lent either.  My best friend used to give up candy during lent so it was a big giant deal when she got her Easter basket full of goodies.

 

 

Maybe some families did, but we didn't.  My Catholic friends, however....it was a big deal.

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