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Easter

Easter 2019 and 2020

The Easter season is a major holiday time in Denmark with family get-togethers, community events, and religious activities for those who go to church. The public holidays at this time include Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.

YearDateDayHoliday
201918 AprThuMaundy Thursday
19 AprFriGood Friday
21 AprSunEaster Sunday
22 AprMonEaster Monday
20209 AprThuMaundy Thursday
10 AprFriGood Friday
12 AprSunEaster Sunday
13 AprMonEaster Monday

Originally, Easter was a pagan celebration in Scandinavian nations like Denmark. But after the arrival of Christianity, it came to be celebrated as the day of Christ’s Resurrection.

The Germanic tribes celebrated the arrival of spring, after the long, bleak winter months, by festivities designed to honour the goddess of the dawn- Ostara, from which the English word “Easter” is ultimately derived. Some other symbols, like rabbits and eggs for fertility, have also survived, but most of the old pagan traditions, such as those involving witches and bonfires, have now died out in Denmark. Very little remains of the pre-Christian Easter.

The egg, however, does remain as the main symbol of Easter in Denmark. This tradition was also strengthened through the centuries by the fact that eggs were highly valued in early spring. As hens laid few eggs in the dark winter months, eggs were once so valuable that they were used as a form of payment to local pastors, parish clerks, and common servants.

The Church of Denmark celebrates Easter time for all of Holy Week. The days mainly celebrated are Palm Sunday, when Christ entered Jerusalem; Maundy Thursday, when the Last Supper occurred; Good Friday, when Jesus died on the cross; Easter Sunday, when he rose from the grave; and Easter Monday, which simply allows for a long Easter weekend.

Many school children are off during Holy Week, ostensibly that they might attend the services of the Church of Denmark, but a survey in 2000 showed only 10 percent seeing church attendance and the Christian message as the main reason for Easter. Time with family and recreation were instead more associated with the holiday in the minds of most Danes.

One major Danish Easter tradition is to decorate homes and businesses in green and yellow colours, with daffodils, and with leafy branches. Window boxes are planted, gardens are spruced up and planted, and eggs are elaborately decorated. Figurines of hens are also a common Easter ornament, and the Easter Hare is now common, though once he was only seen in the parts of Denmark near the German border.

There are also numerous Easter food traditions in Denmark. First of all, eggs are consumed in abundance and in many forms. Second, “spring foods” like lamb, chicken, and vegetables are eaten. Third, a special Easter lunch is eaten on Sunday as a family meal. Some of the main foods at the feast include: herrings, other sorts of fish, various cheeses and sliced meats, meatballs, and a special, rather strong Easter brew known as “akvavit.” Finally, there is much effort put into decorating the table itself with coloured napkins, table cloths, and flowers such as daffodils.

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