Friday, 21 March 2008


My old granny used to say "I don't know why they call it Good Friday! Hardly good for Jesus, was it?"

Well, that is the subject for a sermon and I am no preacher. But whatever your beliefs, the Christian allegory of death and resurrection represented by the cross and the empty tomb remains an eternal, universal and life-enhancing symbol of hope...

Joseph laid the body of Jesus in the tomb and it was closed up with a large stone rolled across the entrance.

My granny also believed that Good Friday was the day on which one could plant something in your garden with the sure and certain expectation that it would grow and blossom.

I've always remembered this piece of folklore every Good Friday and have wondered at its origin. Thanks to Google I've found the answer... er... answers!

* Good Friday was thought to be a good day for planting seeds inspired by interpreting the Parable of the Sower, in which seeds needs to be planted in the ground in order to bear fruit, as a metaphor for Jesus' necessary death and burial on this day.

* Gardeners and farmers considered Good Friday to be the best day of planting peas, potatoes and parsley because it was the only day of the year when the devil was believed to be powerless. Parsley is notoriously slow to germinate, and very often gardeners would make three sowings - two for the devil and one for the gardener - before getting a crop to come up. They even poured boiling water over the soil before planting to deter the devil and that technique may have actually helped, since parsley germinates faster in warmer soils.

* There was probably also the practical reason for working in the garden on Good Friday in that men were free to work for their own benefit. However, this was not true everywhere; in North Yorkshire in the 1860s, "great care (was) taken not to disturb the earth in any way; it were impious to use spade, plough or harrow… a villager… shocked his neighbours by planting potatoes on Good Friday, but they never came up."

* Many people in the upper Midwest of the USA religiously planted their potato crop on a Good Friday - even when Easter came early and they had to chop their way through icy soil in order to do so!

* Some people believe that the moon phases were important to the planting of crops and that potatoes thrive if planted under a full moon and there is always a full moon on Good Friday, or a few days before, or the Saturday/Sunday afterwards.

So, there you are: true or not, and whether you're gardening or not, may your day today be a good Good Friday!

The picture of the Garden Tomb is © Stephen Waterhouse and is from 50 Favourite Bible Stories written by myself, illustrated by Stephen and narrated on 3 CDs by Cliff Richard.

To see more images visit Stephen Waterhouse: Illustrator and Author.


Boll Weavil said...

I don't think we'll be venturing out into the garden today Mr B, not if the Met Office is right anyway !

Suzanne said...

I actually saw tombs quite similar to that in Turkey... old Lycean tombs dug by the Romans in the 1st century BC which are reputed to be the exact replicas of what was used for Jesus.

Eudora said...

In Spain we call this day "Holy Friday", but I think that is a beautiful idea go to the garden today, here, for the moment, we have a sunny day (in the southeast I mean).

Happy day for you Brian, and David, and for all the visitors of the blog, have a good and prosper Easter.

Rob Cox said...

Shouldn't that be Sir Cliff Richard to give him his due respect?

From Robert Cox MIMC, BSc, PGCE, MIEA

Brian Sibley said...

You're right, Rob. That's my MBE gone west!