With Easter behind us, we are counting down to the strangest day on the Danish religious calendar. This Friday, 22 April, is Stor Bededag. ’Big Prayer Day’! Those crazy Danes decided back in 1686 that there were just too many religious holidays during the year. So they lumped the minor ones together, four weeks after Easter and – voilà – Stor Bededag was born. It’s an official holiday so Denmark will be ‘closed’ on Friday, and the kids are off school. It’s time to get out in the garden, work on a DIY project, make a trip to Tivoli Gardens or just chill at home. And eat big rolls! (More on that later in this post.) But many Danes will make a day trip to Sweden or Germany, where it’s business as usual and cash registers will be working overtime.
Big Prayer Day was traditionally a time to fast and pray. And, though I’ve yet to meet a Dane who willingly goes to church (apart – selvfølgelig – from christenings and weddings), a lot of Danes will be attending church this Friday. Not for regular church services but for confirmation ceremonies. Which was actually the case for us last year, when it was our son’s turn to go through this very traditional Danish rite of passage…
Want to know more about Danish confirmation and the traditional “Blue Monday” that follows it? Then go read my post “When Blue Monday isn’t New Order!”
But the biggest tradition associated with Stor Bededag is eating hveder on Thursday night. What are hveder? Large, fluffy, pale, basic white bread rolls which you halve, toast and butter. You’ll find them on sale at the bakers but be warned that – despite their modest ingredients – they don’t come cheap!
I gave up queuing for them at the bakers years ago and just buy the ready-made ones from the supermarket. Best enjoyed warm with a nice cuppa!
After you’ve had your hveder, you’re supposed to go for a stroll around the city ramparts at Kastellet (Copenhagen Citadel). You don’t live near Kastellet? Well, sit back, relax and enjoy Denmark’s finest rock band, Magtens Korridorer singing about a picnic at the Citadel… (If the guy pretending to sing in the video looks familiar, it’s Nicholas Bro, an actor who was in the The Killing (II) and Borgen. Oh! And let’s not forget the third season of Broen/Bron/The Bridge 😉
And me? I’m praying for some warmer weather. It has been exceptionally chilly (not to mention wet and windy) so far this spring, so we’re still waiting for everything to start blooming.
God Stor Bededag!