Denmark abolishes May public holiday to boost military spending amid backlash

Great Prayer Day, or Store Bededag is a Danish Christian public holiday which dates back to the 17th century. Photo credit: Andreas Herman Hunæus / Wikimedia Commons

Denmark’s Great Prayer Day holiday, a tradition dating back to the 17th century, is set to be abolished in order to boost spending on the military. The country’s parliament voted 95-68 in favour of cancelling the May holiday on Tuesday, February 28, with the extra funds of three billion kroner €403 million going towards the defence budget.

However, there has been backlash from trade unions, religious figures and politicians from opposition parties who argue that the move is unfair and the government is “ordering people to work an extra day”.

Denmark’s government coalition has defended the move, saying that the extra money is necessary to raise the defence budget to NATO’s target of 2 per cent of GDP by 2030, instead of the previous target date of 2033. The change of plan is due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has heightened security concerns in Denmark and other European nations.

While Denmark currently has up to 11 public holidays, critics argue that the loss of Great Prayer Day is a blow to the country’s cultural heritage. The holiday has long been a time for families to come together and enjoy traditional foods and activities.

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