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Great Prayer Day

Great Prayer Day is a special Danish festival falling on the fourth Friday after Easter Sunday, i.e. at the earliest on 17 April and at the latest on 21 May.

Both the previous evening and on Great Prayer Day itself, people eat hot wheat buns and especially in Copenhagen it has been common to go for a walk on Langelinie, on the ramparts around Christianshavn or in ‘Kastellet’ (The Citadel), where the student choir is also gathered to sing.

The Great Prayer Day was put on the Statute book in 1686 and combined several lesser fast and prayer days. Under the law, all trade, work, etc were forbidden on this day. The bakers therefore hit on the idea of baking some wheat buns which could be heated up and eaten the following day. It gradually became common throughout the country to eat the hot buns on the evening before Great Prayer Day.

The day was heralded the previous evening by ringing the church bells. Going for a walk on the ramparts around Christianshavn to hear the bells is a special Copenhagen custom, which can be traced back to 1747 when Copenhagen Cathedral ‘Vor Frue Kirke’ (The Church of Our Lady) had a new carillon.