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Danish traditions For Members

What's open and what's closed in Denmark on Ascension Day?

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
What's open and what's closed in Denmark on Ascension Day?
Church members in Aalborg celebrating Ascension Day in 2016. Photo: Christian Roar Pedersen/Ritzau Scanpix

Ascension Day, an important festival for Denmark's Lutheran Church, always falls on a Thursday, meaning many workers get to enjoy a four-day weekend. Here's what you need to know.

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Kristi Himmelfart, literally “Christ’s journey to heaven day”, is the Danish word for the festival of Ascension, which Christians believe marks the day that Jesus ascended into heaven. 

It is always 40 days after Easter Sunday, and ten days before the Pentecost, which means that its exact date varies from year to year. The earliest possible date is April 30th, and the latest possible date is June 3rd.

But it always falls on a Thursday, offering the opportunity of a klemmedag, or “squeeze day“, when only one work day falls between a public holiday and a weekend, meaning if workers take one day off of holiday, they can enjoy a four-day break. 

The day falls on May 9th this year. 

Who gets a four-day weekend? 

As Ascension falls 40 days after Easter and Easter always falls on a Sunday, Ascension always falls on a Thursday, meaning many people in the country take the Friday (May 10th) off as well, 

Schools in Denmark are closed on May 10th, so many parents are effectively forced to take the day off as well. 

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What’s closed?

Shops

Denmark is strict with shop opening times on public holidays, with the Lukkeloven, or closing law, requiring most shops to remain shuttered on Ascension Day. 

This includes all major supermarkets, with only smaller local grocery shops with a turnover of less than 43.4 million kroner a year allowed to stay open.

Those that can stay open are likely to include smaller convenience stores from the Dagli'Brugsen and Brugsen chains, as well branches of COOP's discount chain 365discount, and smaller shops in the Kvickly and Superbrugsen chains.

The closing law allows the Danish Business Authority to grant some grocery stores in rural areas and holiday home areas to stay open on public holidays on a case by case basis, but if you're travelling out to a rural area, don't bet on anything being open.

Petrol stations are also allowed to stay open, as are shops selling bread, dairy products and newspapers, garden centres, second-hand shops and pawnbrokers, and market stalls selling food and household products.

But even smaller shops selling durable goods like clothes, shoes, or other items other than groceries must remain closed.

If you're planning on buying a more upmarket wine or snaps, you should be aware that specialist wine merchants will also be closed.

All shops will, however, be open on Friday May 10th.  

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Municipalities 

Your local borgerservice, the public-facing service desk at your local town hall, will be closed on Ascension Day itself and some, but not all municipalities also close their borgerservce on May 10th as well, to give all employees a long weekend, so if you need to pick up a new driving license, for example, leave this errand until next week.

Health

Most Danish primary care centres are closed on May 9th, and many will also be closed on May 10th. If you urgently need a doctor, you should ring the number of your local on-call doctor (lægevagt), emergency dentist or emergency psychiatrist, which you can find listed for Denmark's regional health authorities here.

The person on the phone will then decide whether you need to come into a hospital or emergency clinic for treatment or examination.

What's open?

Museums and galleries pretty much all remain open on Ascension Day, even those that close over the Easter period, as do restaurants, hotels and the like. 

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