Store Bededag or translated as the Great Prayer Day or Big Prayer Day is a holiday unique to Denmark and is held nowhere else in the world. In 2015 it will be held on the first of May (01-05-2015).
The original name was Ekstraordinær almindelig bededag (extraordinary prayer day) but has changed over the years to its present name, which is easier to say.
The major tradition associated with Bededag is eating warm wheat rolls on either Thursday evening or on Friday reheated.
The history behid the holiday dates back to 1686, when Christian V decided to create several Roman Catholic feast days, which were spread out through the year. Actually it was down to Bishop Hans Bagger who got the idea off and running.
Later on Christian VII and his personal physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee, decided to make just one big feast day, which would fall on the 4th Friday after Easter. They called "extraordinary general prayer day" and has changed names to mean "Big Prayer Day" or Store Bededag.
The day is celebrated in many ways. The most common thing to do is to go shopping on Thursday for varme hveder, which are wheat buns. They are to be reheated and eaten on Friday. Many eat them on Thursday evening or some other sort of wheat product.
Since it was illegal to work on Store Bededag, the bakers had to bake on Thursday evening so people had the rolls to eat on Friday. Hmmmm, a day off to lay around and eat warm wheat rolls - could get used to that!
In churches, it is traditional to decorate with purple to signify penance, fasting, prayer and reflection. There is also lots of bell ringing to be heard.
A more modern tradition, especially in Copenhagen, is to take a walk along Langelinie. Not sure why and no one I have asked knows where this tradition started. Traditionally, the day was designed for people to spend their day praying and doing nothing else. Well modern Danish society has pretty much done away with that idea.
Back to learn more about other holidays in Denmark.
Most people will buy their wheat rolls at their local bakery, but if you are up to making them yourself, here is a recipe below which should be easy enough to follow. This is the recipe my wife uses and they always turn out great.
Ingredients needed are:
500 grams of wheat flour
1 dl whole milk
1 dl of water
50 grams of butter
50 grams of yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp cardamon
PS. A dl or deciliter is 1/10 of a liter or about .4 cups
Slowly warm the milk, water and butter together. Once warm stir the yeast into it. Mix in a beaten egg, salt, sugar and flour into the mix. Now knead the dough thoroughly. Leave it to rise for about 30 minutes or until it is about doubled in size.
Work the dough a little bit more and than divide into 12 portions or buns. Place buns on a baking sheet (rolls should be touching each other so they bake into one large unit).
Cover them and let them rise again. If you put the pan over a steaming pot of water and let them sit there for about 15-20 minutes, they will rise more.
Now remove them and brush them with either milk or water and put them in the oven to bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 200 Celcius.
You can either add or leave out the Cardamon in the mix (but it is up to your taste. Some prefer it, while others leave it out.
Learn about other Danish holidays than Store Bededag.
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