A busy intersection in Copenhagen, Source: Depositphotos

Denmark cancels religious holiday to fill up state coffers

Denmark cancels religious holiday to fill up state coffers

Naturally, many aren’t happy - not because of the reduced possibility for prayers, but because they felt it was an attack on welfare

The Danish government has announced plans to remove one of the public holidays from the country’s labour calendar as a way to beef up the economy with some extra working hours. The net result would also mean an increase in state revenue, which is the ultimate aim behind the move.

The holiday in question is known as Great Prayer Day, a religious holiday, which was instituted way back in the 17th century as a way to remind Danes to be more pious and dedicate themselves to prayers, fasting and penitence. The holiday falls on the fourth Friday after Easter.

The biggest critical reactions, however, came not from religious authorities, but rather surprisingly from the country’s trade unions. They argue that the extra working hours added would threaten the established Danish social welfare model.

The extra funds raised will boost the defence budget

These days, some countries are toying with the idea of reducing working days and hours as a way to provide a more balanced work-leisure life to their citizens. Yet, the Danish coalition government is looking in the other direction, citing the need to boost the defence budget (among other things) in a time of escalating insecurity in Europe, due to the war in Ukraine.

The change is set to enter into force in 2024. It will add 7.4 hours of work for each employee. It is expected that an additional 3 billion Danish crowns will enter the treasury - about 403 million euros. 

"I don't think it's a problem to work one more day. We are facing huge costs for defence, health care, psychiatric care and green transition," commented Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on the occasion, as quoted by The Guardian.

Danes will also get an increase of 0.45% in their pay for the extra working day. Still, a recent poll by Epinion indicated an overwhelming number of Danes opposed the move, which was not mentioned during last year’s election campaign. Only 17% supported the plan, while 75% were against it.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU