I don’t know if they do it anymore, but the Old Town Bar on East 18th Street used to close on this day. I went past there some decades ago and there was a hand-lettered sign in the window: Closed due to death in family 2000 years ago.
The New York Stock Exchange is closed too, and good on them. I have nothing against stocks or speculators or rich people, but it’s just not a good day for money changing.
It’s a fast day for Catholics. Despite our reputation as being big fun-hating meanies, our fasts are pretty easy. No meat. (Fish is not meat, which the fish might object to if they weren’t so busy eating one another. Eggs are not meat, which I’ve always thought kind of odd for reasons I won’t get into here.) Furthermore, on fast days you should only have one meal and two bites to eat that together do not make a meal. You don’t have to do it if you are a kid or an old-timer. Compared to the fast that the Greek Orthodox do for the Great Lent and Holy Friday, the Jews do for Yom Kippur, and the Muslims do for Ramadan, we have it easy. And it’s only required today and on Ash Wednesday.
Many years back I had a long, convoluted argument with a girlfriend who was not a lapsed Catholic so much as a jumped-in-the-car-and-tore-away-from-the-church-like-Thelma-and-Louise Catholic. At the time I was barely holding on to any faith, but was being pulled steadily closer to the church. She was indignant over the basis of Christianity being something so cruel as a crucifixion.
“But that’s what happened,” I said (as best as I can recall). “That’s what human beings did to him. That’s on record, as clearly known as anything else at the time.”
“So at its very heart is this holy man being tortured to death? What does it say about us?”
I am sorry to say that she was unable to see that human nature has got a hell of a lot of evil in it. You can deny the divinity of Christ, but you cannot wish away the evidence of what we did to him, or the evil we did and still do to one another. To do so is not being a freethinker, it is willfully ignoring the truth.
In this fallen world you can never have an Easter without a Good Friday, though. If that seems cruel, it is nothing compared to what the world once was—all Good Friday, no Easter at all.