Is Good Friday a Holy Day of Obligation?

What Practices Are Done on Good Friday?

After the Good Friday mass
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On Good Friday, Catholics commemorate the Crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ with a special service recalling his Passion. But is Good Friday a holy day of obligation? In the U.S., Roman Catholic believers are encouraged to attend church on Good Friday but are not obligated.

Holy Day of Obligation

Holy days of obligation are the days in the Catholic Church on which faithful followers are obliged to attend Mass. Catholic people are obliged to attend Mass on Sunday and in the U.S., there are six other days that people who follow the Roman Catholic faith are obliged to attend Mass and avoid work.

That number can change each year depending on if the day falls on a Sunday. Also, the number of days can change depending on where you are. The bishops of a region can petition the Vatican for changes to the church calendar for their area. In the United States, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sets the liturgical calendar for the year for Roman Catholic followers.

There are currently ten holy days of obligation in the Latin rite of the Catholic Church, which is the Vatican, and five in the Eastern Catholic Churches. In the United States, only six holy days of obligation are observed. Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. that has an exception. In Hawaii, there are only two holy days of obligation—Christmas and Immaculate Conception—because the Bishop of Honolulu asked for and received a change in 1992 so that Hawaii's practices conformity with those of the South Pacific Islands region.

Good Friday

The Roman Catholic church recommends that believers attend the commemoration of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday in order to prepare most fully for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Good Friday falls in Holy Week during the Lenten season. Palm Sunday begins the week. The week ends with Easter Sunday.

Many Christians from most all dominations and sects outside of Roman Catholicism respect Good Friday as a solemn day. 


Good Friday is a day of strict fasting, abstinence, and repentance. Fasting entails having one full meal for the day with two smaller portions or snacks. Followers also refrain from eating meat. There are rules for fasting and abstinence in the Catholic Church.

Liturgy or the rituals observed in the church on Good Friday consists of the veneration of the cross and Holy Communion. The Roman Catholic church has specific prayers for Good Friday that are acts of reparation for the sufferings and sins that Jesus endured the day he died.

Good Friday is usually remembered with the stations of the cross devotion. It is a 14-step Catholic prayerful meditation that commemorates the journey of Jesus Christ from his condemnation, his walk through the streets to his Crucifixion site, and his death. Most every Roman Catholic church has a representation of each of the 14 stations in the church. A Catholic believer makes a mini-pilgrimage around the church, moving from station to station, reciting prayers, and meditating on each of the events of Jesus' last, fateful day.

Moveable Date

Good Friday is held on a different date each year, usually falling in March or April. It is the Friday before Easter since Easter is the day that is observed as the day Jesus was resurrected.

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ThoughtCo. "Is Good Friday a Holy Day of Obligation?" Learn Religions, Feb. 8, 2021, ThoughtCo. (2021, February 8). Is Good Friday a Holy Day of Obligation? Retrieved from ThoughtCo. "Is Good Friday a Holy Day of Obligation?" Learn Religions. (accessed March 20, 2023).