General Prayer Day 2024 (Denmark): History, Activities and Facts

General Prayer Day in Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands, founded in 1686, honors minor saints and pre-Reformation rituals, with churches ringing bells and students walking on campus.

General Prayer Day 2024: The fourth Friday after Easter is General Prayer Day (Store Bededag) in Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands. Date: May 26 this year. The 1686 celebration, founded by Danish Emperor King Christian V, combines many Roman Catholic holidays. The day honors minor saints in spring and other pre-Reformation rituals. Every church rings its bells and students walk on campus during the annual observance.

General Prayer Day: History

In Denmark, General Meditation Day (Store Bededag) is a national day of meditation and Catholic service that takes place on the fourth Friday following Easter. Several other penitential days observed by the state church of the country are replaced by this day. Hans Bagger, the Bishop of Roskilde, requested the introduction of the holiday in 1686, along with three other religious holidays.

The objective of the reduction of public holidays was to decrease the number of days on which the public was obligated to publicly commit their time to the church. Pre-reformation, there were 22 sacred days in the year.

Denmark’s customs are commemorated on General Prayer Day. The Danish people are distinguished from the natives of other Christian-majority countries due to their ability to endure a complete revision of religious allegiance and the reformation period of the 18th century.

General Prayer Day is a holy day in Denmark. After the festivity, inns, and callers must stop selling alcohol to ensure the nation’s temperance the next day. Fasting till the end of the Christian service. The nation rings church chimes together on the eve of the celebration.

Locals dressed in spring colors are walking along Copenhagen’s Langelinie shoreline to honor the 1659 Assault on Copenhagen’s young victims. Soon, the public celebration will end, and people will come home to enjoy a hot varme header, a square wheat bun.

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General Prayer Day: FAQs

Is Great Prayer Day a public holiday in Denmark?

Denmark observes a nationwide public holiday known as General Prayer Day or Great Prayer Day.

Is Denmark a Christian nation?

Evangelical Lutheran is the official religion of Denmark, as defined in its constitution. This religion is also practiced by 85% of the country’s population. Only one-fifth of the Danish populace identifies as “very religious.”

What is the date of Store Bededag?

Store Bededag, also referred to as General Prayer Day or Great Prayer Day, is observed on the fourth Friday following Easter Sunday, typically occurring between April 17 and May 21.

General Prayer Day: Activities

Participate in religious services

General Prayer Day is one of Denmark’s most significant public holidays. The day commences with a mass at the Church, during which local leaders conduct prayers in cities and villages. Spend a morning at the church and become a part of the congregation in spirit.

Stroll through the park.

In remembrance of the Copenhagen assault of 1659, the Danish populace departs their residences as the sun sets. The populace extends their arms and inhales the fresh air as a tribute to the fallen defenders of the capital, recalling those who paid the exorbitant price of Denmark’s freedom in blood.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Incorporate the renowned Danish bread, varme header, into your evening meal for a unique Danish flair. Varme header is a soft wheat bread that is typically made at home, as the majority of stores were closed to commemorate General Prayer Day.

5 Classic Danish Traditions Observed on General Prayer Day

Observing a fast until the sun becomes visible

The Danish populace typically observes a fast beginning on the eve of the General Prayer Day.

Bound to the motherland

The local populace is advised to remain in the country and refrain from engaging in international travel.

No gambling, no sports

The general public refrains from engaging in gambling and other forms of vanity.

Purchase a bun on the designated day.

The day following the General Prayer Day, the locals purchase and consume round pastries that are infused with cardamom (varme header) to break their fast.

Refrain from indulging in alcohol while celebrating

To ensure that they arrive at the church sober, the public refrains from consuming alcohol after 6 p.m.

General Prayer Day: Importance

It acknowledges antiquated customs.

The integration of over a dozen Christian observations and traditional Danish holidays into a single celebration is an opportunity to acknowledge the significance of ancient traditions and the role they have played in the development of Denmark as a nation. The holiday is also a testament to Christian conservatism and aims to acknowledge the significance of adhering to traditions.

It facilitates the reunion of generations.

Everyone has an activity to participate in on General Prayer Day. The elder generations opt to spend time at the church, while the younger generation is encouraged to take a walk outside in remembrance of the civilians who lost their lives in the Copenhagen attack. Families convene to partake in varme header and relish the public holiday after the day.

It signifies the prospect of summer.

In Denmark, General Prayer Day signifies the conclusion of the spring season. Individuals eventually discard their overalls and transition into lighter attire for the remainder of the season. Danish citizens have something to anticipate with the commemoration of General Prayer Day, whereas the majority of Christian nations conclude their festivities following Easter.

General Prayer Day: Dates

2024April 26Friday
2025May 16Friday
2026May 1Friday

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