The Merry Month of May

With only a few days left of April, we look towards May with excitement.

Photo: Photopop

With only a few days left of April, we look towards May with excitement.

May is with its many public holidays a month full of traditions, family gatherings, religious celebrations, and spring chores. May is Confirmation season for many families with young teenagers, who you may meet on their Blå Mandag (Blue Monday is the day after their confirmation) when they are out and about celebrating and spending some of their newly acquired cash. 
May is also one of the most beautiful months in Denmark with blooming flowers and trees, and insects coming to life after a long cold winter. The weather is warmer, and Danes are quick to drop the many layers of clothing, pretend its summer already, and tan the bright white skin as soon as the sun is out. And luckily there is time for a bit of spring sunbathing, as May is the month with the most individual public holidays. There are also other general events in May that are worth marking in the calendar. 
In our May newsletter article, we focus on the month of May! What happens on May the 1st? Why can you hear howling sirens on Wednesday the 3rd? And what are these public holidays all about?
Let’s start from the beginning of the month, as the 1st of May is an important day for workers in Denmark and many other countries around the world. 

1. May - International Workers Day

International Workers Day on May the 1st, is not regarded as a public holiday in Denmark. Some people in the trade unions may have the day off, but most businesses are open as usual. 
The day was first celebrated in 1890 to mark the introduction of the 8-hour working day. Many Danes still gather to celebrate solidarity and community, accompanied with beer, flags, speeches and songs. In Aarhus, you can join the celebrations at Rådhuspladsen (the Town Hall Square) at noon, followed by music, speeches, and beer at Havnepladsen (the space in between Dokk1 and Navitas).  

Howling sirens 

There is no need to run and hide when you hear howling sirens on Wednesday, May the 3rd. On this day, Denmark tests its howling sirens to remind people of what to do in an emergency.
The sirens are tested at 12.00 and it is important to emphasize that there is nothing to be concerned about. The signal sounds 4 times, lasting 45 seconds.  

Store Bededag (Great Prayer Day)

The first public holiday to greet us in May is the famous Store Bededag. This public holiday friends, is one to enjoy this year! Store Bededag has been the cause for much debate lately, leading up to the government’s abolishment of it being a public holiday. Hence, this year will be the last time you can enjoy the day off.
Store Bededag dates back to the 1600s as a consolidation of several fasting and prayer days. The traditions of Store Bededag is to buy ‘varme hveder’ (white bread rolls spiced with cardamom) and eat them the night before. This tradition simply came about as bakers didn’t work on public holidays, so people had to buy their bread the day before. So, visit your local bakery and get some hveder. They are best enjoyed warm with melted butter – you’re welcome!  

Kr. Himmelfartsdag (Ascension Day)

The next public holiday in May is Kr. Himmelfart Day on Thursday the 18th. This day is celebrated to commemorate Christ's ascension into heaven, which occurred 40 days after his resurrection, and 10 days before the Pentecost. There aren’t many traditions surrounding this day, and only few Danes attend church. Many take the Friday off as well and take the opportunity to go away or just enjoy a long weekend. Because if that, some businesses and services will also be closed Friday, so make sure you check opening hours before heading out.

Pinse (Pentecost or Whitsun)

On May the 28th and 29th we celebrate Pentecost. Pentecost occurs on the 50th day after Easter Sunday, and celebrates the Holy Spirits ascendant on the apostles. By now, you know more than many non-religious Danes. This is because Pentecost for most Danes is not filled with religious traditions, but instead it’s spent celebrating the warmer weather and enjoying the days off.
Danes are always very optimistic when it comes to the Pentecost weather forecast, and often plan outdoor family picnics, gardening and getting the BBQ and furniture settings ready for summer. For those, who celebrates the religious aspect of Pentecost, churches have services on, of which some might be hosted outdoors.  

We hope you have a wonderful month of May and enjoy the extra days off work. If you live in an apartment but want to join in on the spring gardening, AU Garden is always open and in need of some love for plants. If gardening is not your thing, then have a look at the event calendar for other fun and informative events coming up this next month.   
We hope to see you around!