May 4th is the Danish public holiday “Store Bededag” which literally translates to “Prayer Day.” Wikipedia tells me it is “A collection of minor Christian holy days consolidated into one day.” Apparently the government wants to get rid of it to increase productivity, but everyone loves a public holiday, even if most of them aren’t really religious and can’t actually tell me why they are having said public holiday. But I guess that is still in keeping with tradition, as Store Bededag, which also more loosely translates to ‘General Prayer Day”, came about because King Christian V felt a whole bunch of different days celebrating different saints throughout spring was a tad unproductive.
The night before, however, is definitely a tradition I can get behind. Carrying on the theme of lost productivity, the Danes traditionally coped with the tragedy that was bakeries being closed by starting a tradition called “Hvedeknopper” where they sold buns the day before especially made to be toasted a day later. Disaster averted! Nowadays, there seems to be less reliance on the local baker for food, and people tend to eat them the night before as well as on the day. The traditional Hvedeknopper I had today were quite sweet and laden with cardamom, a spice the Danes seem to really love. I didn’t work this out until after I tucked into my first one, topped with the very Danish ‘Rejeost’ – literally ‘shrimp cheese’ – a spreadable cheese with shrimps in it.
So on the 3rd of May, friends who are students and/or lazy, you have permission to have toast for dinner and claim you are celebrating a Danish tradition.