Store Bededag

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Store Bededag
Also called Great Prayer Day
Observed by Denmark, Faroe Islands
Date 4th Friday after Easter
2013 date 26 April
2014 date 16 May
2015 date 1 May
2016 date 22 April
Frequency annual

Store Bededag, translated literally as Great Prayer Day or more loosely as General Prayer Day, "All Prayers" Day, Great Day of Prayers or Common Prayer Day, is a Danish holiday celebrated on the 4th Friday after Easter. It is also celebrated in the Faroe Islands, where it is called Dýri biðidagur.

It is a collection of minor Christian holy days consolidated into one day. The day was introduced in the Church of Denmark in 1686 by King Christian V as a consolidation of several minor (or local) Roman Catholic holidays which the Church observed that had survived the Reformation. Store Bededag is a statutory holiday in Denmark. It was one of the few holidays that survived in the great holiday reform that was carried out in 1771 during the reign of Christian VII, when his Prime Minister, Count Johann Friedrich von Struensee, was in power. The day was introduced as a more efficient alternative to individually celebrating a number of holidays honoring various minor saints in the Spring. It was not, however, Struensee who had come up with the idea of this particular reform, as the church commission which had worked on it had been instituted several years before Struensee arrived at the Danish court.

Bells in every church announce the eve of Store Bededag.

There are very few traditions associated with Store Bededag. Formerly, citizens and students of Copenhagen strolled the city ramparts on the evening before the holiday; the students of Copenhagen University did this to honour the many students who had died defending Copenhagen during the assault on Copenhagen. In the evening before the holiday, it was customary to buy and eat varme hveder, a traditional bread, because bakers were closed on holidays and people bought bread for the following day.

Today, the city ramparts are gone and instead the tradition is to walk along Langelinie on Copenhagen's waterfront or on the fortification of Kastellet, though only few follow this tradition depending on the spring weather. It is more common, also outside Copenhagen, to still buy and eat varme hveder.

This and Kristi Himmelfartsdag(Ascension day) are the only 2 days except Sundays on which confirmations take place, for confirmation is part of regular church services.

The earliest possible day is April 17 (if Easter falls on March 22), the latest possible day is May 21 (if Easter falls on April 25).

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