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DANISH TRADITIONS

Why are flags flown in Denmark on September 5th?

It’s not a public holiday, Constitution Day or the Queen’s birthday, but Denmark’s flag is flown every September 5th from public buildings and buses across the country.

Why are flags flown in Denmark on September 5th?
Danish soldiers prepare to lay a wreath at Kastellet in Copenhagen on September 5th 2021. Photo:Keld Navntoft/Ritzau Scanpix

Dannebrog, as the Danish flag is known, is flown on September 5th to honour the country’s soldiers and others who are stationed abroad, or have been in the past.

Veterans’ Flag Day was introduced in 2009 as a way of acknowledging the contribution of Danish troops in international military operations since 1948.

More than a decade ago, Danish soldiers were active as peace keepers in Afghanistan, notably the volatile Helmand province, where a number of casualties and deaths were sustained.

“We still send soldiers on missions around the world and as long as we are still doing that, we need to show our respect for those stationed abroad,” former Minister of Defence Trine Bramsen told broadcaster DR in 2019.

“It is so important and tribute should really be paid to those who put our values of freedoms before themselves and serve abroad,” the minister added.

Danish military personnel have in recent years served in missions including operations in the Arctic, training local military in Iraq, and providing protection in Afghan capital Kabul.

The world has changed significantly since flag day was last marked in 2021, the head of the Danish army Gunner Arpe Nielsen said.

READ ALSO: Denmark to send 800 Nato troops to Latvia

“The war in Ukraine has forced us to increase our presence in Eastern Europe massively. At the same time, we still have missions in Iraq, Kosovo and many places,” Nielsen said in a video shared by the Danish armed forces on Twitter.

Flag Day is marked with parades and the laying of wreaths in memory of the fallen, including at the Monument at Kastellet, a historic military barracks in Copenhagen.

Around 1,000 military personnel from Denmark are currently serving abroad, acting head of the Navy Carsten Fjord-Larsen states in the Beredskabsstyrelsen video.

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WORKING IN DENMARK

How many public holidays does Denmark have compared to other countries?

Denmark’s government wants to reduce the number of public holidays on the national calendar by one from 2024 onwards. But does the Nordic country have more or fewer days off than other countries in Europe?

How many public holidays does Denmark have compared to other countries?

The Danish government wants to abolish springtime public holiday Great Prayer Day in a move it says will enable increased spending on defence. A bill was tabled by the government earlier in January.

The policy has met with criticism, but how do Denmark’s public holidays stack up against other countries?

Denmark has 10 national public holidays, including some which always fall on a weekend. Up to 4 extra may be given depending on the sector you work in, your employer and collective bargaining agreement (if a trade union member).

If the holiday falls on a weekend, no substitute day is given.

The holidays are: January 1st (New Year’s Day); Maundy Thursday; Good Friday; Easter Monday; Great Prayer Day; Ascension Day; Whitsunday; Pentecost; December 25th (Christmas); December 26th (Boxing Day).

If the plan to abolish Great Prayer Day is adopted, it will take effect from 2024, so you’ll still be able to enjoy the holiday in 2023 at least.

Some industries also have May 1st (Labour Day) as a day off, while June 5th (Constitution Day) is a holiday for banks and government workers, with most shops closed too by law, but this is optional for the private sector.

Christmas Eve (December 24th) and December 31st (New Year’s Eve) are not public holidays, but many employers treat them as such.

READ ALSO: When are Denmark’s public holidays in 2023?

Even before Great Prayer Day is scrapped, Denmark rarely comes out on top when comparing the number of public holidays to other countries in Scandinavia and Western Europe.

Norway, like Denmark, has 10 national public holidays including some which may fall on a weekend.

Norway does not mark Great Prayer Day, which is unique to Denmark, but does celebrate both Labour Day and the national day, May 17th, as public holidays. If the holiday falls on a weekend, no substitute day is given in Norway.

Sweden has nine national and three extra ‘de facto’ public holidays. If the holiday falls on a weekend, you do not get an extra weekday in lieu.

People in Sweden get January 6th (Epiphany) off work and also celebrate Labour Day as a holiday on May 1st.

Midsummer’s Eve, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are not national public holidays in Sweden, but the majority of employers treat them as such. 

In many Swedish workplaces or collective bargaining agreements, there are additional public holiday policies. The most common include a half-day before certain public holidays (Epiphany, Walpurgis and All Saints’ Eve), or ‘bridge days’, so that if a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, the Monday before or Friday after is given as an extra day off.

Germany has 9 national public holidays, including some falling on a weekend, and up to 13 regionally. If the holiday falls on a weekend, no substitute day is given.

German public holidays include German Unity Day on October 3rd and Labour Day on May 1st.

Many states have extra holidays including, but not limited to January 6th (Epiphany) in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Saxony-Anhalt; March 8th (International Women’s Day) in Berlin and October 31st (Reformation Day) in a number of states across the country.

The United Kingdom has between 8 and 10 public holidays (also known as bank holidays) during the course of the year, depending on which country you’re in.

Northern Ireland has more public holidays (10) than England, Scotland and Wales (all 8). Scotland’s bank holidays are not exactly the same as those in England and Wales.

In 2023, the UK will have an additional bank holiday for the coronation of King Charles III. Last year saw two extraordinary bank holidays related to the monarchy: one in June for Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee, and one for the Queen’s state funeral in September.

Unlike many other countries, the UK is accommodating if a bank holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday. In such cases, a ‘substitute’ weekday becomes a bank holiday, normally the following Monday.

France has 11 public holidays – or 13 in the historic Alsace-Lorraine region. However, if the holiday falls on a weekend, in general no substitute day is given, so the actual number of extra days off that French workers get varies from year to year.

There is also the curious case of Pentecost, which for some people is a public holiday and others an opportunity to work without getting paid. Yep, you read that right

So are there any nearby countries which actually have fewer public holidays then Denmark?

In Switzerland, there are only 4 public holidays nationally and the Swiss communes with the fewest paid public holidays have only 5 in total. However, there are up to 16 regionally.

If the holiday falls on a weekend, the Swiss do not get an extra weekday in lieu.

Several public holidays are marked by a majority of regions, but not quite all. These include Good Friday, Easter Monday, Pentecost and All Saints’ Day.

Some other public holidays are marked by multiple regions, and some cantons have their own holidays, including March 1st (Republic Day) in Neuchâtel; June 23rd (Jura Independence Day) in Jura; and June 29th (Feast of St Peter and St Paul) in Graubünden and Ticino. A few local communes also have additional public holidays.

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