It’s a National Holiday in Denmark today. Why? Because it’s a General Prayer Day, known in Danish as the “Store Bededag”. You can also call it the Great Prayer Day. This is a special Danish festival celebrated on the fourth Friday after Easter Sunday. The days for this holiday differs; but the earliest date it can fall on is between April 17 and May 21 on the latest.
What are you thinking? Do you think it’s an unusual holiday? Well, my thought when I first arrived this great country.
The History of the Great Prayer Day:
The holiday began many years ago when one man, Hans Bagger, who was a bishop in Roskilde (a city in Denmark) in the late seventeenth century, introduced some new praying and fasting days. At that time, there were pockets of holidays to commemorate holy days of prayers in Denmark. And all these days were clashing on daily life. So, a decision was made that several of these lesser holy days be combined with the others – hence the birth of a national holiday known as the Great Prayer Day.
In 1686, The Great Prayer Day was put on the Statute book by King Christian V and thus became a National Holiday.
So, every year, the law demands that all trade, work, educational institutions, etcetera, are shut on this day. This will ensure full participation by everyone to attend the day’s obligatory church service. Hmmn! Well, these days, only the old folks make it to church on this day. You know what I mean!
To go with the day, Bakers came up with the idea of baking some extra wheat buns the Thursday before the day (yesterday) to mark this special prayer day. The buns could be heated up and eaten the following day (Today). It gradually became common throughout the country to eat the hot buns, but nowadays on the evening before Great Prayer Day.
With the prayer obligations done with in the churches, it is an annual tradition to go for a walk on ‘Langelinie’ on Copenhagen’s waterfront around Christianhavn in the city of Copenhagen.
What can I say? It’s a holiday today and I’m loving this great idea by Hans Bagger. Now, I’m loving this loooooog weekend too. It means more time to rest and focus on other things besides work.
Peace and Love!