Good Friday

Good Friday always used to be the most difficult day of the year for me. When I was little it was the beginning of the most boring long weekend of the year. Friday was a bank holiday – there was absolutely nowhere to go, nothing to do, all the shops were shut, it was usually cold, the food you ate was little and awful ( I really did not like fish as a child) and the only alternative very occasionally was going to church to stand in interminable queues to kiss the cross. Excruciating. Perhaps that is what it was meant to be.

I exaggerate a little because not always absolutely was it like that. I remember when I was about ten going to Wales to stay with my mother’s friends and their two girls, Ewa and Monika (who has recently died, sadly) and there the Easter preparations would start on Good Friday. White eggs were blown or hardboiled, the paintboxes would come out, the onion skins prepared and the eggs would be stained and painted by the whole family. . Janusz, the father, also painted designs in wax before the eggs were stained. Then the wax was removed and the stencilled designs were very delicate. I think he used a cocktail stick or a sharpened matchstick to lay the wax. I remember one year when the priest came in the afternoon and fashioned a lamb out of the butter. I had never come across such family creativity before. He came back on the Saturday to bless the Easter table and the feasting would start properly on the Sunday morning, after Mass. Memorable times.

But my family in London was not at the time very inventive or artistic or religious. So for four days solid we stayed at home, desultorily watching tv (my parents ) or reading (me.)

Wehn I was at University the shops were still shut and there was still little to do, but I had by then made some very good friends, in particular a young man who has since become a Franciscan Friar, a priest, a hermit and a leader of his own little congregation. He invited me to spend Easter weekend with him in Aldeburgh several years in a row and that was wonderful. His mother, Naomi, had a lovely little cottage verty near the sea, and she and her three sons were fabulous cooks. Good Friday there, though kept within the letter of Catholic canon law, was a veritable sensory feast. The food was delicious, and although the alcohol did not flow on the Friday as this was Naomi’s Lenten sacrifice, we spent the day aniticipating its return with her. Midnight was a joyous moment when she could have her gin! ( I didn’t drink much at the time so I didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about. I’m a bit more sympathetic now!) I loved going there, I must say. We also watched Robert Powell as Jesus of Nazareth. he was the perfect representation as far as I am concerned. No one else has bettered that performance. Trouble is I can’t look at the actor now without thinking of Jesus.

But that is all in the past. Today my husband and I went shopping for fish in our local shopping street and it all came back to me- the deadness of London streets in the sixties – and although it is over forty years since the shops are open on Bank Holidays I still can’t get my head round that fact. I still feel slightly guilty for buying a dress on Good Friday about thirty years ago. My husband had persuaded me- for him, brought up in communist Poland, it wasn’t a problem at all. Good Friday there was a normal working day. If you were religious you attended church, but otherwise you carried on as normal. Render unto Caesar etc etc.

So my plans for today were to paint some Easter Eggs ready for Sunday. I managed to track down some white ones yesterday and hard boiled them and brought them with me here to Cookham. But I forgot to bring the paints and brushes! Will have to search for some tomorrow!

This article has somehow written itself. I was going to write about the artist Ivan Mestrovics and his Crucifixion bas reliefs, but I got completely sidetracked by my reminiscences!

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter, and enjoy the spring holiday- here we have wonderful weather, and you can see why it is one of the most ancient and joyous festivals of all.

9 comments on “Good Friday

  1. As Marvin, the robot would say: “Sounds Awful!” Luckily I’m Protestant so no fish on Fridays. I don’t like fish to this day. Growing up in the country, things were the same on any given holiday except the church was always full on Easter Sunday as compared to most other Sundays. I found it funny that several people asked me if the office was open today or if I was working today. Of course, we’re open and I’m working. Although, a lot of fo staff are supposedly “working from home” today. Happy Easter.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting how we each have our childhood memories. I’ve always loved Good Friday and Easter generally. We never did anything religious, my Mum boiled eggs on Easter Sunday and drew our faces on in felt tip pens. We ate hot cross buns and Easter eggs and it was always someone’s birthday nearby – my Mum’s, or mine.. never a boring Easter weekend. I’ve always felt it’s like Christmas but without so much pressure! 🙂

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  3. Wonderful! Interesting, informative, engaging and evocative. When we were children we often spent at least part of the Easter holidays in Dorset, at the religious community my parents’ friends started (inspired by TS Eliot’s Little Gidding). Although being a believer wasn’t a perquisite of visiting, or staying there, there was a little chapel in the house where compline was said every evening a little church just outside the walled garden and they observed the Christian calendar. So, on Good Friday the house and grounds were silent, which was excrutiating for my brothers and I! I’m pretty sure we didn’t stay the whole day.

    Sent from my Galaxy

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  4. Good Friday in my parents home was one of the better holidays. Because it was a mixed marriage, my father was Roman Catholic and my mother came from a secular Jewish home, the day varied from year to year. The food however, whether Christian or Jewish was based around fish. However, the best Good Fridays were when we were invited to some Jewish friends of my parents who lived somewhere in Hampstead/Belsize Park. The table was heavily laden with wonderful Jewish food (apart from the gefilte fish) interspersed with a mixture of sledz and the usual Polish salads etc. The conversations were always mind boggling, usually based around whether or not the Crucifixion really happened – the Jews love to discuss this – leading on to whether the Resurrection really occurred. These discussions were conducted on an intellectual and completely non-personal level and everyone was allowed to have their opinion. Christian or Jew. It was from these discussions that I learned that it was possible to discuss issues and accept that even though someone else’s point of view might not necessarily be yours with tact and the right language any topic could be spoken about.

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