21 March 2008

Friday the Guid!

Especially guid for me, because it's the start of a long weekend!

(Not so guid for JJ, alas, who is working today, tomorrow and Sunday... but at least his next Friday will be very, very guid indeed when he gets to take me out for dinner with that big fat statutory holiday paycheque! He gets paid double time this weekend to sit around and play Spider Solitaire and fool around with Google Earth. So don't shed too many tears for him.)

WARNING: anyone who is not comfortable of the idea of a somewhat irreverent take on the most serious holiday in the Christian calendar might want to avoid reading this post. Don't say you weren't warned!!

Now, for any of you not familiar with the intricate details of the Christian tradition, Good Friday is meant to be a big day of mourning. Why?

Oh. I see. Most of you are probably familiar with this guy. Even if you are not Christian, I suspect you can't help but have heard too much a lot about him, at least in Western cultures.

Anyway, the historical event depicted in that image has led, almost 2000 years later, to many different prohibitions of certain behaviours on the basis that people are supposed to mourn and be abstemious - not a concept I'm familiar with, personally, as you might well have gathered.

However, depending upon where you live, all or any of the following might be forbidden today:

- shopping
- betting or watching horse racing
- eating altogether
- eating meat
- dancing
- watching comedy or dance performances
- digging in the dirt - huh?!

(I think that knitting, however, is probably allowed - as long as you pretend not to enjoy it. And in fact, depending upon where you live, your TV knitting choice might be well enhanced today, as some jurisdictions also ban television advertising on Good Friday.)

Anyway, with all of these depredations, why is it referred to as "Good Friday", anyway?!?

This is what the United Church has to say on the matter:
It is a day that is good because God was drawing the world to God's self in Christ. As seen in John's gospel, particularly, God was in control. God was not making the best of a bad situation, but was working out God's intention for the world — winning salvation for all people. We call it "good" because we look backward at the crucifixion through the lens of Easter!
Hmm, well - I don't know that it was all that good for this guy:

Maybe that's why the Orthodox Christians (as, technically anyway, am I) call it "Big Friday", at least in Greece and Cyprus. Oh, and - because we have to be different know better, it is usually on a different this day - this year, it falls on 25 April and Easter on 27 April.

It is a very sombre day, of course.

I mean, crack a smile, guys - it's not the end of the world, is it?!
(The guy in the middle with the big crown was apparently called Archbishop Kontogeorge. This happens to be the maiden name of my mother's mother and the original surname of the ultra-cool cousin/slash uncle of mine who sends me a bunch of funny stuff by Email. So - my question - where the $#&(@$*&@#( is the crown, as I really, really need to inherit it!)
It's a pretty boring holiday as Greek ones go - mostly because it involves no food (or none that you would want to eat, anyway). Instead, people stay up all night the previous night reconstructing the tomb of Christ.

This is called the epitafio in Greek. I just learned that in English it is called the... wait for it... Holy Sepulchre. Love that phrase!

Anyway, on the evening of Big Friday a bunch of guys then get roped into picking it up:

...and carrying it around the block while a bunch of people follow them around singing sad songs.

What a blast, eh? And for this, we have to wait another five weeks. I don't know if I can stand the excitement.
(Oh - but it's not all so bad. My mother likes the one sad song they sing on this evening so much that she plays it on the piano and sings it all year. This must be some kind of sin or another, I think - so obviously I come from all my debaucheries honestly! Thanks, Mom!)
Now, in other countries they do something similar, but with a twist. Check out this re-enactment of the Crucifixion:

... while in Bermuda, there is a big kite-flying festival every year on Good Friday. People make some pretty elaborate kites:

Now, that seems like it could be a lot of fun! But then again, they've also got weather like this:

... as opposed to what's been going on up here this week.

Far more conducive to the festive spirit, don't you think?

Anyway - one good thing about Good Friday - it would appear from all of the above photos that the one thing that is not prohibited is colour. This surprises me, given that I think that if one turned up wearing anything more vivid than charcoal grey at your average Greek funeral, one would end up being the next one in the coffin. But hey. I'll never complain about bright colours!

And, at any rate, I guess it is a day to celebrate if you actually believe in all this stuff. It is a rather creepy and mysterious day in history - and a couple of days from now, this guy

will have metamorphosed into...


Hmm... so that's why he could fly!

Hey, what happened to the Natural Law Party, anyway? I think they should strongly consider running a candidate in the presidential election south of the border, frankly. It would be a good counterpoint to all the bizarreness around the current situation... and maybe they'd even stand a chance! Go Doug!

And then, 2000 years from now people might be celebrating Big Fat Monday, the day commemorating the magical transcendental metamorphosis of Doug Henning into:

Well, I think that's about enough. A very, very Good Friday to you.