COPENHAGEN ( Associated Press) – The Danish government is facing criticism from the opposition, unions, bishops and even ordinary party members for its intention to end the spring public holiday.
The government of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, formed by a tripartite coalition, has proposed abolishing the holiday that falls on the fourth Friday after Easter and is known as Stor Bededag, or the Great Day of Prayer.
The government says the money saved can be used to boost defense spending; An official estimate says it will strengthen the structural public balance by around 3 billion kroner ($439 million) per year.
Denmark has up to 11 public holidays, although fewer in years when Christmas and New Years fall on a weekend. The government tabled a proposal to abolish the store beddag in parliament on Tuesday.
The new government – made up of Social Democrats, centre-right liberals and centrist-leaning moderates – has been in office since 15 December, and is seeking to meet a NATO target of spending 2% of its GDP on defence. . , partly in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
However, the removal of a holiday – created more than 300 years ago when a Danish bishop combined several minor holidays into a single day – affected the whole of Denmark, a country of about 6 million people, which accounts for more than 73% of the population. There has been a bitter reaction. In the State Lutheran Church, however, less than 3% attend church regularly.
The unions, which are traditionally close to Frederiksen’s Social Democrats, have launched an online petition with more than 405,000 signatures to “send a clear signal to the government: abandon your plans to remove store beddags.”