When is General Prayer Day ?
Store Bededag, also known as Great Prayer Day or General Prayer Day, is a special Danish festival celebrated on the fourth Friday after Easter Sunday.
The earliest date it can fall on is 17 April and the latest is on 21 May.
Great Prayer Day is basically a collection of minor Christian holy days consolidated into one day.
Unusually for a holiday, the source for Great Prayer can be traced to one man, Hans Bagger, who was a bishop in Roskilde in the late seventeenth century. Bagger had introduced some new praying and fasting days, but given the amount of holy days in the calendar already, it became clear that all the days of praying and fasting were having an impact on daily life, so it was decided that several of the lesser holy days should be combined into one of Bagger's days, which became Great Prayer Day.
The Great Prayer Day was put on the Statute book by King Christian V in 1686.
Under the law, all trade, work, etc were forbidden from 6pm on the day before Great Prayer Day, to ensure that nobody would be late or drunk when they had to attend the next day's obligatory church service.
The bakers came up with the idea of baking some extra wheat buns on the Thursday which could then be heated up and eaten the following day. It gradually became common throughout the country to eat the hot buns, but nowadays on the evening before Great Prayer Day.
In Copenhagen it has been common to go for a walk on Langelinie, on the ramparts around Christianshavn; a custom, which can be traced back to 1747 when Copenhagen Cathedral ‘Vor Frue Kirke’ (The Church of Our Lady) had a new carillon.
The day was heralded the previous evening by ringing the church bells.