Friday, February 17, 2023

Store bededag

Anyone who has been living in Denmark since the last general election (1/11/22) knows all about 'Store bededag' or 'Great prayer day'. The new three party coalition centrist government spent a month in negotiations before visiting the Queen and offering to form a government, then out of the palace they trotted and announced their brainwave - if we scrap this one bank holiday, we'll make enough money to fund the entire Danish defence budget, half the health service and god knows all what else. I think they thought Danes, with their great faith in the state, would just nod and happily agree to working an extra 7 hours a year for the good of the land. It is a very secular country after all so I doubt more than half a dozen pensioners actually spend great prayer day praying. But they seem to have miscalculated; Denmark is incandescent with rage with people's protests and sieges of parliament on a daily basis. (Here is an article in English to explain the ins and outs).

Unions think they should have negotiated it, workers want a say, the church isn't happy etc etc. Though, to a man, Danes swear it is entirely about workers' rights, I suspect the crux of it is also partly buns! You see, when Denmark, back in the 1600s, scrapped all the minor religious bank holidays in favour of one great prayer day which falls on the fourth Friday after Easter, everyone other than ministers presumably had to spend the day at prayer. Everywhere is like a ghost town on Store bededag, nothing is open. It's like Christmas day with knobs on! Local bakeries weren't even allowed to open, so they invented these very yummy warm cardamom buns that could be eaten for 24 hours, so everyone could buy them before the bakery shut on the Thursday night. They are quite delicious especially toasted with melted butter on top. Here's a recipe, (but it is in Danish). So, once a year everyone visits a proper bakery and buys dozens of these delights, and the bakeries presumably take in half their annual income in 24 hours! I, for one, am more worried about the loss of this tradition, than I am about the kids being in school an extra day a year!

Anyway we happened to be discussing it over dinner when Léon came out with a rather sweet confession!
You remember when we first moved to Denmark, mum? Well, our school took us all to the outdoor swimming pool to celebrate Store bededag the first two years and because I have never been in a church and know nothing about prayer days, I thought everyone was saying Store badedag (Great bathing day) but just pronouncing it weirdly, maybe in some local dialectSo, I thought we'd moved to the best country in the world! One where the government gave everyone a day off a year so they could go to the pool together and have a lovely time socialising!

What a sweet idea! 

No comments: