Special Report

Good Friday Traditions From Around the World

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Torch-lit papal procession in Rome, Italy

Good Friday is not a public holiday in Italy, but there’s no shortage of Good Friday observances or people to attend them since many events are free and no tickets are required. Traditionally, Catholic Mass is not celebrated on Good Friday; instead Pope Francis will conduct a special seasonal liturgy at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. The Via Crucis is a torch-lit procession led by Pope Francis from the Colosseum to Palatine Hill, with stops for prayers at the traditional 14 Stations of the Cross. He is likely to carry a cross at least part of the way, and has announced that his Good Friday meditations will be devoted to victims of human trafficking.

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Way of the Cross procession in Jerusalem

On Good Friday in Jerusalem, religious pilgrims, many of them carrying crosses, retrace the steps of Jesus in the place where he spent his last days. At midday, the Way of the Cross procession follows the route taken to Golgotha, the site of his crucifixion. Later in the evening, a cross-bearing funeral procession re-enacts the burial of Jesus, finishing with a service at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.

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Dyeing Easter eggs – widespread

From Serbia to the American South, coloring hard-boiled eggs is a longstanding Good Friday tradition. Eggs dyed red are said to represent the blood of Christ, or the tears of his mother, Mary. Some dyers with an artistic bent create heirlooms by applying designs with wax before dipping them into the color bath. Multi-colored eggs are also common, as free-styling participants strive to make their unique statement on the tiny, fragile surfaces.

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Brotherhood processions in Seville, Spain

Following a tradition stretching back hundreds of years, Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Seville is marked by dozens of local parishes. The marchers don medieval garb of long robes and pointed hoods and walk — often on bare feet — to the cathedral in the center of town. An estimated 50,000 observers typically pack the ancient, narrow streets for the haunting sight of the silent, candle-lit legions of walkers, some bearing crosses and accompanied by drumbeats. Spectators show their approval by tossing rose petals or confetti at ornate floats that bear statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary, which usually grace church altars.

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Fortune-telling in Jamaica

To follow a Jamaican tradition, add an egg white to a glass of water before sunrise on Good Friday, then look at it as the sun goes up to see if the white settles into an image that may hint at the future. For example, a car-shaped pattern in the egg white could mean a new vehicle or a road trip. If you’re looking for another way to enjoy eggs during the Easter season, check out Bessieres, France, on Easter Monday, when the locals cook up 15,000 eggs to create a giant omelet.

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