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Copenhagen could replace Great Prayer Day holiday with own day off

The Local Denmark
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Copenhagen could replace Great Prayer Day holiday with own day off
Copenhagen Municipality is set to consider whether it can continue to observe Great Prayer Day by giving city employees and schools the day off. Photo: Søren Bidstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

After parliament this week voted to scrap Great Prayer Day, the city government in Copenhagen has taken steps that could see it retained as a local public holiday.

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Parliament voted earlier this week to abolish Great Prayer Day, a public holiday that falls in early May and has existed in Denmark since the late 17th century.

That means this year’s Great Prayer Day, on Friday May 5th, will be the last time the public is given a day off for the holiday.

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Prior to its adoption, the government proposal met with criticism from trade unions and the church, while the military also distanced itself from the plan. Thousands of Danes protested it outside parliament earlier this month.

READ ALSO: Great Prayer Day abolished by Danish parliament 

A majority in the Copenhagen Municipality council [Borgerrepræsentation] has subsequently initiated discussions over whether municipal employees and schools in the city can continue to be given the day off on what would have been Great Prayer Day, broadcaster DR reports.

“The proposal was first and foremost tabled to send a signal to parliament and the public that this is something we want to try to hold on to, and that we are very unhappy to see removed,” city councillor Finn Rudaizky is quoted by news wire Ritzau.

Municipal committees must put together by May 4th a formal proposal for city officials to decide on, DR writes.

But the move to retain Great Prayer Day as a day off in Copenhagen already has the backing of several parties in the municipality, including the Danish People’s Party (DF), Conservatives, Liberal Alliance, Alternative, Socialist People’s Party (SF) and Red Green Alliance.

A potential obstacle to the plan is an earlier statement by the national organisation for municipalities, Kommunernes Landsforeningen (KL), that municipalities cannot afford to keep Great Prayer Day under their own auspices.

But Rudaizky, who represents DF in the Copenhagen city government, appeared to be undeterred by the KL statement.

“If Copenhagen Municipality can finance it, they are allowed to give staff a day off. All that is needed is and agreement between employee and employer,” he told DR.

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