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Great Prayer Day

This year Great Prayer Day will be the 30th of April. It is a public holiday in Denmark meaning that most shops and supermarkets will be closed, and the tradition is that people eat hot wheatbuns for dinner the night before.

The day originated in 1686 and was officially named extraordinary general prayer day. It has since then always been on the fourth Friday following Easter. Despite its name, the day has no roots in the bible or other religious scriptures. It originated when the Bishop of Roskilde, Hans Bagger, wanted to unite some of the many prayer days which existed back then.  

The day was originally intended for making amends, praying and fasting. It already started the night before, in order to make sure that the Danes would not show up drunk in church the next day as going to church this Friday was obligatory. As the prayer day started the night before it also meant that every shop had to shut down when the church bells would ring at 6 pm. On the great prayer day people fasted until all three church services were over, and working, playing, gaming and even traveling was forbidden until then – except for the postal service they were allowed traveling.
Since everything would be shut down on the great prayer day, bakers would make extra wheat buns and sell in order for people to warm them and eat on Friday. However, the tradition has changed since then. Today, people eat the wheat buns on Thursday evening the night before great prayer day. They warm them in the oven and eat them with generous amounts of butter.

If you want to try and bake your own wheat buns you can find a recipe here.

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