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de Souza: Good Friday in America

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By Raymond J. de Souza - 

Good Friday is different in the United States. 

In most Christian-majority countries, Good Friday is a federal holiday—but not in the United States, even though some states observe it. Other Protestant countries—Great Britain, notably—have made Good Friday a national holiday. But the distinctive Protestant culture of the United States does not emphasize Holy Week or Good Friday, as is customary in Catholic cultures. 

The most famous Good Friday in American history was in 1865, when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre. After the surrender on Palm Sunday at Appomattox, the triumphal “entry” was styled as ending in a martyr’s death, following the biblical chronology. What is remarkable, though, is that Lincoln, along with Washington high society, was at the theatre at all on Good Friday, let alone for a comedic play. That theatres in 1865 would be doing commerce on Good Friday was unimaginable in other Christian countries.

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