Great Prayer Day

Great Prayer Day Quick Facts

AKA NameGeneral Prayer Day, All Prayers Day, Great Day of Prayers or Common Prayer Day, Store Bededag (Denmark), Dýri biðidagur (Faroe Islands), Store Bededag
Hashtags#NationalDayOfPrayer, #RevivedToThrive
2020 Date8 May 2020
2021 Date30 April 2021
Great Prayer Day

Great Prayer Day History

Great Prayer Day is a Danish holiday that consolidates several minor Christian holy days into one day. The bells in every Danish church announce the eve of Great Prayer Day. There are few traditions that take place during the holiday. Students from Copenhagen University walk the city ramparts in commemoration of students who died defending Copenhagen in the 1659 assault by the Swedish Army during the Second Northern War.

The day was first celebrated in 1686 by the Church of Denmark under the guidance of King Christian V. The days in question were Roman Catholic holidays that had survived the Reformation. It was itself a survivor of the holiday reforms carried out by Christian VII in 1771. Great Prayer Day takes place every year on the 4th Friday after Easter.

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Great Prayer Day Facts & Quotes

  • As the festival is tied to Easter, it can fall at the earliest on April 17 and May 21 at the latest.
  • When Store Bededag was put onto the Statute book in 1686 all trade, work and activity was forbidden. As a result bakers began to bake wheat buns that could be heated up and eaten the following day. Eating hot buns is now a common tradition.
  • The Second Northern War was fought between 1655 and 1660. Denmark-Norway, as it was then known, was allied with Poland, the Habsburg Monarchy, Russia, the Dutch Republic and Prussia, although they sometimes fought Prussia too.
  • The original name for Great Prayer Day was actually Extraordinary General Prayer Day.
  • Ben stiger op, naade stiger ned. – Danish proverb, translated as Short prayers reach heaven.

Great Prayer Day Top Events and Things to Do

  • Visit Copenhagen cathedral, Vor Frue Kirke (The Church of Our Lady) to see the services held on Great Prayer Day.
  • Eat or make some hot wheat buns. Since work and trade are forbidden on Great Prayer Day, so why not make some yourself? Simple recipes are readily available online.
  • Take a walk around the streets and ramparts of Copenhagen (or just where you are). Students do this in Copenhagen to commemorate the deaths of their historical peers in the Second Northern War.
  • Get confirmed. Great Prayer day is one of the most popular days of the year for church confirmations. If it doesn't fall in line with your beliefs, do something relating to your own beliefs to mark the day.
  • Watch some Danish films or TV shows. Since work is forbidden, movies can be of great value on this day? Our suggestions include:
    1) Borgen (2010-2013)
    2) The Killing (2007-2012)
    3) Rita (2012-)

Great Prayer Day References and Related Sites

Great Prayer Day
Danish Buns
Denmark's Prayer Day
History of War

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