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EASTER

The complete guide to Easter in Denmark

Påskefrokost, gækkebrev, a 5-day weekend and snaps. Here's your complete guide to a Danish Easter.

Easter eggs
Easter egg hunts are popular in Denmark. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
5-day holiday
Even though Easter has become less of a religious holiday, on Good Friday Danish flags are flown at half- mast.
 
The Easter period in Denmark includes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.  These are national holidays in Denmark when schools are closed and most people do not work. 
 
It is worth checking opening times for shops, supermarkets, attractions and restaurants during this period because many close for the whole long weekend.
Most people stretch out the bank holidays and either take the entire first or second week off, meaning the Easter break becomes a one-week long holiday. Many will go to their summer houses or spend time with family so you may find the cities quieter than usual.
 

Tivoli is a fun place to visit over Easter. Photo: Marie Hald/Ritzau Scanpix

Easter decorations
Homes are decorated with easter colours, fresh flowers or branches to hang decorations off. It’s very popular to bring nature into homes in Denmark and around Easter time, homes will be coloured with bursts of yellow, mint green and pale pink.

 
Children bring home Easter decorations such as a small chicken or bunny box with cress seeds.
Easter eggs hanging from a branch.

Easter decorations. Photo: Allan Lundgren/Ritzau Scanpix

Påskefrokost

The påskefrokost, or Easter lunch, is a must for most Danes. Some families have Easter lunches at a restaurant, but most people invite family and friends to their homes.

Påskefrokost lasts most of the afternoon and is a mixture of lunch and dinner (or even breakfast).

The food will include ryebread (of course), eggs, cress, breaded fried fish, different kinds of herring, a variety of cheese, sliced meats and liver pâté (leverpostej). Lamb is also a typical dish for this time of year. 

Easter lunch in Denmark

An example of påskefrokost. Photo: Claus Bech/Ritzau Scanpix

The drinks will include Easter beers. All breweries begin releasing their Påskebryg (Easter brew) in the run up to Easter claiming it to be stronger and tastier than the average beer. 

There will also be snaps, or “en lille en,” a northern European kind of flavoured spirit (could be akvavit), which is drunk in one-go and accompanied by a cheerful “Skåål!” 

If you’re invited to a påskefrokost, remember to bring a bottle of wine or some flowers and arrive on time.

Gækkebrev

Making a gækkebrev (or several) is a standard activity for Danish children. The idea is to design a letter in the basic shape of a snowflake that includes a rhyming riddle and a snowdrop. Children will not sign their names on the letter, but will instead put one dot for every letter in their name.

Recipients then have to guess who sent them the letter. If they guess right, the sender has to give them a chocolate egg. If they don’t guess the sender’s identity, then the recipient has to give the egg. Pro tip: You’ll almost certainly know which child sent it to you but play along and give them the chocolate. 

Danish gækkebrev

An example of a gækkebrev. Photo: Bjarne Lüthcke/Ritzau Scanpix
 
Eggs
Like everywhere else in the world, the egg is a major symbol of Easter, also in Denmark. It symbolises new life and a new beginning.
 
Eggs will be eaten boiled, fried or as a prepared solæg, which translates as “sun egg.” This is a tradition from southern Denmark. The eggs are boiled with onions and the yolk turns dark. The eggs are then put into a salty mixture for at least one week, and then eaten with mustard and chilli.  
Solæg, a kind of hard-boiled egg, is enjoyed during Easter, particularly in South Jutland. Photo: Annett Bruhn/Ritzau Scanpix
 
If you’re a child in Denmark, you’ve been counting down the days until Easter when you get your chocolate Easter egg. 
 
Children look for Easter chocolate eggs in the garden or in parks that the Easter bunny has hidden. They also plays games with eggs. One game is throwing boiled eggs to see who can throw the furthest.
 
Easter eggs in Denmark

Påskeæg. Photo: Kjersti Hjelmen/Nf-Nf/Ritzau Scanpix
 
Decorating eggs is also popular, which you can do by making a tiny hole at the bottom and top of an egg with a needle and blowing out the contents before carefully decorating the shell.  
 
For the professional look, head to Royal Copenhagen’s flagship store on Strøget. They produce a new Easter egg each year in porcelain – it can be opened at the top and filled with chocolate. 
 
However you celebrate your Danish Easter, we hope it’s a good one. God påske allesammen!
 
For members

POLITICS

Why does Denmark reopen parliament at the start of October?

Denmark’s new parliamentary year is always commenced on the first Tuesday in October. Why is the custom important and what can be expected this year?

Why does Denmark reopen parliament at the start of October?

Parliament is opened each year on the first Tuesday in October with a traditional speech given by the prime minister – somewhat comparable to a ‘State of the Union’ speech – in which she gives her assessment of the situation in the Scandinavian nation as the new political year begins.

In practical terms, the reopening of parliament means Danish lawmakers will go back to voting on and discussing law proposals.

The reopening of parliament meanwhile often sees demonstrators gather in front of Christiansborg. Different groups lobbied for causes including climate and childcare standards in 2021.

The opening speech is usually attended by the Queen and members of the Royal Family, who watch from the Folketinget parliament’s Royal Box.

After lawmakers attend a service at the nearby Christiansborg Slotskirke church – which is also used for royal ceremonies – the Queen and other royal family members arrive at parliament for the opening ceremony, where they are received by the Speaker.

This year’s ceremony will be attended by Queen Margrethe, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, and the Queen’s sister, Princess Benedikte.

The opening session is traditionally led by parliament’s longest-serving member. Formalities including voting for the Speaker and deputy speakers.

That is followed by the traditional opening speech from the prime minister.

While there are no predefined expectations as to the content of the speech, the Danish constitution states that the PM must make her assessment of the state of the kingdom and present some of the government’s initiatives.

Usually, the prime minister gives a speech at which she outlines the government’s strategies and key issues for the incoming parliamentary session, and sums up the previous year.

Two years ago, most of the regular traditions of the annual opening of parliament were observed amid Covid-19 restrictions, with the church service attended by most members of parliament moved from its normal location at Christiansborgs Slotskirke to the larger Holmens Kirke nearby, to allow social distancing.

Last year’s opening speech was used by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to talk about topics including affordable housing, international climate targets and education.

This year could be markedly different with the energy crisis and war in Ukraine dominating the political agenda.

An even more immediate point of interest at this year’s opening is the likelihood of an election being announced.

The Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party has demanded Frederiksen call an early general election, an ultimatum issued in response to the conclusions of an inquiry into the government’s 2020 mink scandal, which resulted in Frederiksen receiving an official rebuke.

The Social Liberals wanted an election called by the time of parliament’s return and have threatened to bring down the government through a vote of no confidence if an election is not called by October 4th. As such, an election would have to be called today to meet the demand.

Talk of an election is therefore high as parliament returns, but the government appears to have been given an extra day to call the vote, news wire Ritzau reported on Tuesday morning.

“The exact day means nothing for me. And I can also see that several commentators have noted that an election will be called on Wednesday [October 4th]. And that is completely fine with me and us,” Social Liberal political leader Sofie Carsten Nielsen said.

Legally, the government could wait until June 4th, 2023 to hold a general election – the last one was in 2019. Until now, Frederiksen has skirted the issue of calling an election when asked about it by journalists, but an announcement will now surely be made.

READ ALSO: Could Baltic Sea gas pipe leaks affect Denmark’s election timeline?

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