GOOD Friday traditions of varying natures were observed across town yesterday.
Parishioners from seven Hartlepool churches marched through town before gathering at the town’s Victory Square war memorial for a service.
Meanwhile, in another Good Friday tradition, queues could be seen snaking out of town chip shops as people indulged in the ritual of having fish and chips.
Mandeep Dhindsa, owner of West View Fish Shop, at Brus Corner, said: “We were non-stop from 11am right up until closing at 9pm.
“The queues were out the door but our staff coped really well.”
There were similar scenes at Warren Fisheries, in Warren Road, where owner Ranj Mundi said: “We had all our locals wanting their Good Friday fish and chips as well as some new faces – the queues stretched to the next shop.”
At the war memorial, worshippers proudly displayed crosses from each of their churches as they met to hear readings from St John’s Gospel, including The Passion of Jesus Christ.
The Catholic churches represented were St Joseph’s, in St Paul’s Road, St Cuthbert’s, in Stockton Road, St Patrick’s, in Owton Manor Lane, St Teresa’s, in Braemar Road, the Durham Street-based St Mary’s Church, St Thomas More’s, which is in Easington Road and St John Vianney, in King Oswy Drive.
Other Christian churches were also invited to the gathering.
Around 150 people attended the event, which saw 100 parishioners turn up when it was held last year.
Father Michael Griffiths, from St Joseph’s Church, and his parishioners were the first church group to arrive at the memorial.
He said he was delighted with the mixture of ages, from families with small children, to older people, who had turned up.
Speaking about how the traditional meaning of Good Friday had changed, with Victoria Road bustling with noise and traffic, Fr Griffiths said: “I think it’s very hard today. We have the shops open and work going on at the Civic Centre . We do have a society that doesn’t have space sometimes to think about the more important things in life.
“We are lucky to be able to come out today and have that space and opportunity.
“Easter is the most important few days in our Christian year. It is the centre of our faith.
“Christmas is more appealing because everybody loves all the things that go with it.
“But Easter is more the real truth of our faith.”
Event organiser Jeremy Cain, Hartlepool Pastoral Area Youth Ministry Co-ordinator, said: “I think for many people Easter is about chocolate eggs and a bank holiday.
“But I would hope that for just as many people, if not more, it is still the most important Christian celebration of the year, when we remember Jesus rising from the dead and giving us all a passport to eternal life and perfect happiness with God.
“This is an event that has really caught people’s imagination, a way people find helpful to mark Good Friday and remember what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross.”
After the service, worshippers were invited back to St Joseph’s Church for refreshments, before meeting at their various churches at 3pm for services.