RIP Great Prayer Day … now another holiday is under fire

Christian Wenande
March 2nd, 2023

Just days following the demise of Great Prayer Day as a holiday, deputy mayor has proposed to axe May 1 as well

Copenhageners traditionally flock to Fælledparken to take part in May 1 events (photo: www.1maj.info)

Earlier this week, Parliament voted to abolish Store Bededag (Great Prayer Day) as a holiday – a day off that Denmark has enjoyed for some 350 years.

Now, Copenhageners may face losing yet another holiday following the news that the city’s mayor for employment and integration, Jens-Kristian Lütken, has proposed cutting May 1 (Labour Day) as a holiday.

Ninety years and counting
Since 1933, school children and public workers in Denmark’s biggest municipality have had the day off on May 1, something that Lütken wants to amend.

“Having a political holiday is something that we deem to be a relic of the past,” Lütken told TV2 News.

Instead, Lütken and his party Venstre want parents and schools to jointly decide whether a holiday can be held on a different day.

READ ALSO: Bun in the oven: Government has timer set to abolish Store Bededag public holiday this afternoon

Unlikely to attract support
But that idea has attracted particularly heavy criticism from Red Bloc parties in the city. And given that the Red Bloc traditionally dominates policy-making in the capital, there isn’t much hope for Lütken’s proposal becoming a reality.

“Copenhagen is the oldest of all municipalities and it is here that the labour movement was born,” Knud Holt Nielsen, a local politician for Enhedslisten, told TV2 News.

“Having the day off and participating in May 1 events is a long and good Copenhagen tradition that all children and parents know. It’s a bad proposal and one which we will vote against.”

Crucial meeting tonight
A school and parent organisation, Skole og Forældre, have also shot down the idea, and the proposal is expected to be voted down at a City Hall meeting tonight.

Copenhagen is actually one of relatively few municipalities in the Capital Region in which May 1 – International Workers’ Day – is an obligatory day off at the schools.

Of the 34 municipalities in the capital area, only 11 have the day off. In fact, the same can be said for only 14 of Denmark’s 98 municipalities.

READ ALSO: Mayday! Recalling the terror spread by the Gladsaxe bomber in 1978


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