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A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

Good Friday (langa frigedæg, Friday of the Passion of the Lord, Holy Friday, Feria sexta in Passione Domini, Vendredi saint, Viernes Santo, Goede Vrijdag, Μεγάλη Παρασκευή, Wielki Piątek, Nagypéntek, Vinerea Mare, Разпети петък, الجمعة العظيمة). Day of fast, when Catholics do not eat meat and have no Mass, and abstinence and sombre reflection, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus, which may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover. Members of many Christian denominations observe Good Friday, including the Catholic, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist and Reformed tradition. Communicants of the Moravian Church have a Good Friday tradition of cleaning gravestones in Moravian cemeteries. With Christmas, this is one of 2 Common Holidays for major Christian festivals that predate the 1871 Bank Holidays and it is now a legal holiday around the world, including most Western countries and 12 USA states. Countries such as Germany prohibit certain acts such as dancing.

Prayer Lord God, Jesus cried out to You on the cross: “Why have You forsaken me?” Those standing at the foot of the cross asked where You were as they saw Jesus mocked, shamed and killed. Lord God, we too always ask where You are when there is trouble and we cry for You to be with us. Amen

Sizdah Bedar (Thirteen Outdoor, Nature’s Day). Persian annual festival on 13th day of Farvardin, the 1st month of the Persian New Year. Families and friends normally mark the end of the Nowruz holidays and the start of new season outdoors with food, games and jokes. The wheat, lentils and mung beans (Sabze) left over from the Haft-Seen arrangement of 7 symbolic items for Nowruz are given back to nature after single young people have knotted the leaves (Sabze gereh zadan) to express the wish to find a partner. Touching someone else’s Sabze on this day is considered a bad omen. Dorugh-e Sizdah (Lie of the Thirteen) is the Persian version of April Fool’s Day, observed with Sizdah Bedar on the 1st or 2nd day of April since 536 BCE in the Achaemenid Empire.

Our Lady of Zeitoun (El-Zeitun, Our Lady of Light). Above the church of St Demiana in Zeitoun, Cairo there was a mass Marian apparition beginning on April 2, 1968. For more than a year, the Blessed Holy Virgin Saint Mary, Mother of God, appeared in different forms over the domes of the Coptic Orthodox Church, lasting from a few minutes to several hours and sometimes accompanied by luminous heavenly bodies shaped like doves and moving at high speed. The apparitions were seen by millions of Egyptians and visitors, including the Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Moslem, Jewish and non-religious. The sick were cured, the blind received their sight and large numbers of unbelievers were converted.