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Our guide will help you navigate the dangerous waters of Danish public holidays - and maximise your time off!
There are no less than 10 public holidays in Denmark (eight of them on weekdays) in the coming months. Some of them are obscure and unexpected for Danish and non-Danish staff and students alike.
It is a well-known fact that Danish workplaces are liberal in terms of low numbers of working hours. After all, every takes off early on Friday afternoon, effectively taking this day out of the week, as one commenter puts it. And workplaces are generally lenient with sick kids’ days, maternity etc.
Here’s our list of public holidays, and a suggestion on how to get the most out of your vacation days in 2014:
Easter: 17-21 April
In Denmark, Maundy Thursday (in Danish: Skærtorsdag), Good Friday (Langfredag), Easter Sunday (Påskedag), and Easter Monday (2. Påskedag) are public holidays, and most shops are closed on those days.
On the three days before Easter (14-16 April), classes are cancelled at many departments at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), and schools and various public institutions are closed.
With a three day week before Easter, and a four-day week after, your workplace is practically asking you to take the whole two weeks off. So why not just do it?
Labour Day: 1 May
Labour Day (or International Workers’ Day, Arbejdernes internationale kampdag or simply 1. maj in Danish) is traditionally only a day off for blue-collar workers and not an official public holiday. Whether or not you have the day off depends on the tradition at your workplace, but a lot of institutes at UCPH cancel teaching on the day.
If you have the day off, you can join the crowds in Copenhagen’s Fælledparken in the afternoon for the celebration organised by the Danish labour unions. Here, you can enjoy live music, listen to speeches by Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt and other politicians, or enjoy a picnic with your family. As many as 100,000 people show up if the weather is nice.
Prayer Day: 16 May
Prayer Day, or Store Bededag in Danish, is a collection of a number of smaller Christian holidays moulded into one, and celebrated on the fourth Friday after Easter. It is a public holiday (although moves have been made to drop it), and schools, shops, and businesses are closed.
Ascension: 29 May
Ascension Day (or Kristi Himmelfart in Danish), the Thursday 39 days after Easter, falls on 29 May this year. It is a public holiday and shops, schools, and the university are closed.
Constitution Day: 5 June
Constitution Day (Grundlovsdag) is a Danish national holiday, commemorating the original Danish constitution of 1849.
Constitution Day was historically a half-holiday, but is no longer counted as an official holiday. It therefore depends on your workplace customs whether or not you get the (half-)day off. Most shops, however, are closed in accordance with Danish law, and true to form teaching at most departments at UCPH are cancelled, and several of the libraries are closed. This year, Constitution Day falls in the week between Ascension and Pentecost, making for a nice days-off-sandwich.
Pentecost / Whitsun: 8-9 June
This year falling on the weekend after Constitution Day, the Sunday and Monday of Pentecost (Pinse in Danish, and Whitsun in English) are public holidays.
If you are planning to take a vacation this spring, here is our suggestion on how to maximise your days off while using as few of your vacation days as possible:
By using three of your vacation days on the three working days before Easter (14-16 April), and using five vacation days on the Friday after Ascension (30 May) and the week of Constitution Day (2-4 & 6 May) you will get a 10-day and an 11-day break, respectively.
In addition to this, you will still have the long weekends of Labour Day and Prayer Day to take short trips!
Enjoy your spring break. See you on 10 June. Time to take a working week maybe before going off on a summer vacation.
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