Store Bededag – Danish Great Prayer Day

Every 4th Friday after Easter, the Danes celebrate an annual holiday called the Store Bededag. This translates to Great Prayer Day or General Prayer Day. It is actually a consolidation of several minor Christian holidays.

King Christian V is credited for introducing this celebration in the Church of Denmark in 1686. The combined celebration of several Roman Catholic holidays honoring several saints was deemed more practical and efficient rather than celebrating them individually. Store Bededag is announced on the holiday’s eve with ringing of church bells across the country.

There are at least two traditions associated with the observance of Store Bededag. One is to go for a walk in Langelinie or the city ramparts on the eve of the holiday. This is supposed to commemorate the sacrifice of students who died defending Copenhagen during the assault on the city in 1659. The other tradition was the buying and  eating of a traditional bread called the varme hveder. This practice came about when bakers thought it was a good idea to make wheat buns which can be heated the next day since it was forbidden under the law to conduct any trade or work during that day.

This is the only day aside from Sundays wherein Confirmation is provided in churches. It does not have an exact date since it would depend on Easter celebration which also changes every year depending on the church’s liturgical calendar. It falls anytime from April 17 to May 21 and is a public holiday in Denmark.

 

 

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