Welcome to my ‘5 Things Friday’ blog. In a departure from the norm for the day that’s in it, I am going to look at ‘5 Things Good Friday’ today – 5 facts about the day itself, historical events associated with it in Ireland and why it’s even called Good Friday when it’s associated with Jesus’ death!
Although alcohol is widely unavailable in Ireland on Good Friday (referenced in previous point!), it is not impossible to find a drink if you really want one. Railway stations, airports and ferry ports serve alcohol though it will be an expensive pint! If you head to Connolly Station you can buy a pint, but you must present a valid travel ticket for today for 40km or more! Sure you’d have to stay for several to make it worth your while!
Other options include staying in a hotel for the night or going to the dogs! There are several dog racing meets in Ireland tonight and all can serve alcohol legally, provided you pay the entrance fee and are gambling! I find it hilarious that alcohol sale is restricted today and not gambling, but we are in Ireland, so no surprise that it doesn’t make sense!
Finally, why not head to the theatre or the National Concert Hall? That way you can digest some Irish culture and enjoy a drop of the hard stuff!
The thought may have crossed your mind over the years of attending the Stations of the Cross on a Good Friday that the name wasn’t exactly appropriate given poor Jesus’ humiliation, crucifixion and death. Why would we call it good when such a terrible thing happened? Well, the good in this instance refers to ‘holy’ and the selflessness of Jesus’ actions in dying for the greater good of mankind. In fact, Good Friday is also known as Holy Friday in some languages and very few languages other than English call it ‘good’. Interestingly, the Anglo-Saxons referred to it as Long Friday, which may suit some current-day Irish citizens feeling the need for an alcoholic drink!
So why does Good Friday, and Easter, fall on a different date every year? It’s actually to do with the Lunar calendar. It was decided by a council of Christian bishops in 325ad that Easter should fall on the first full moon after the Spring Equinox and it should always be a Sunday to mark Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Once that date is known each year, the start of Lent can be worked backwards by forty days (excluding Sundays – I know, until I knew this I could never figure out why it was always more than forty days!). The day before Lent, Shrove (or Pancake Tuesday) is the day for stuffing your faces before the fasting of Lent begins and rich foods, like eggs, can be used up before the lean period begins.
Around the world there are several legends associated with Good Friday, particularly related to food, and Ireland is no exception. Some people collect eggs laid on Good Friday claiming that they never rot, only dry out. Many have kept eggs for decades to prove this point. Some houses in Ireland may connect this tradition with the ‘black fast’. Only black tea and dry bread was eaten on Good Friday so any eggs laid were stored and not used. In other houses children were allowed an egg. Others believe that if you eat an egg that was laid on Good Friday on Easter Sunday you will have good health for the rest of the year. I may put this one to the test, so tune in next year for the results.
The Good Friday Agreement (also called the Stormont Agreement) was a major political breakthrough in the peace process in Northern Ireland. A comprehensive multi-party agreement, it set out provisions for a new system of government in Northern Ireland and enabled the decommissioning of arms held by various paramilitary groups in exchange for the release of paramilitary prisoners. It paved the way for the peace we enjoy on the island today and is so-called because it was signed on Good Friday, April 10th, 1998, thus turning that particular Good Friday into a Great Friday and long may it continue.
So there you have it, a special edition of ‘5 Things Good Friday’. Please feel free to comment and please share the blog with your friends. I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all my family, friends and followers who celebrate it a happy, peaceful and safe Easter with loved ones and lots of chocolate.
Happy Irish travels,