50,000 Jam the Streets in Denmark To Protest Possible Elimination of 300-Year-Old Christian Holiday

‘[T]he government wants to take a holy day away from us, which we’ve had for over 300 years.’

Tens of thousands of Danes flooded the streets of Copenhagen earlier this month to protest the potential removal of Denmark’s more than 300-year-old Great Prayer Day, which has been celebrated on the fourth Friday after Easter since 1686.

The nation’s leaders are considering eliminating the holiday in a bid to shore up more finances to fund the war in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Citizens have voiced strong disapproval of the idea, packing the streets on Sunday, February 5 in what might be the biggest public protest the lightly populated Scandinavian country has seen in a decade.

Labor unions organizing the protest estimated that the event drew 50,000 attendees.

The public protest came after the country’s biggest trade union last month launched a petition to keep the holiday. The petition wound up tallying over 400,000 signatures.

According to Reuters, the proposal to toss out the three-centuries-old holiday first surfaced in December as the “newly formed government” headed by 44-year-old Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen sought ways to “raise tax revenues for higher defence spending in [the] wake of the Ukraine war.”

“Our government, they want to take our national holiday away from us, which we call Big Prayer Day, and we’re not going to take it,” Danish social worker Susanne Both said in a video report of the February 5 rally.

Another protest participant, janitor Cora Andrew Arthe, told Reuters that “the government wants to take a holy day away from us, which we’ve had for over 300 years.”

The Great Prayer Day, or Store Bededag in Danish, was introduced in 1686 by Bishop Hans Bagger from Roskilde.

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