Danish Language Blog

Danish Easter Posted by on Apr 7, 2012 in Culture, Traditions

Påskelilje Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Easter lilies in Copenhagen.

Påsken (the Easter) is one of the most important holidays in Denmark. Originally linked to Christianity, for most modern Danes it has become a welcome break from work and a chance to spend some time together with your familie. Påske is symbolized by the colour gul, and most people associate it with påskeæg (Easter eggs), påskekylling/er (Easter chicken/s), påskehare/r (Easter hare/s) and påskelilje/r (Easter lilie/s). Many people look forward to the påskebryg – a special bryg (brew) of beer launched by breweries such as Carlsberg and Tuborg.

Like jul, påske is a holiday stretching over several days. Unlike juledag (Christmas Day), however, påskedag doesn’t have a fixed date. Any Sunday between March 22 and April 25 will do the job. It’s up to those star-gazers to tell us exactly when we’re going to have our påskeferie (Easter holiday) this year! (According to Wikipedia, Easter Sunday is the ”first Sunday after the first fuldmåne [full moon] after forårsjævndøgn [Spring Equinox]”.)

Whatever your religious beliefs, in påsken you’re guaranteed to have some days off if you live in Denmark. Let’s look at the Danish names of the various påskedag/e (Easter day/s):

Palmesøndag [PAL-meh-suhn-dah] – Palm Sunday, the day when Christians believe Jesus to have been riding into Jerusalem while being greeted by people waving palmeblade (palm leaves).

Skærtorsdag [scare-TORE-s-dah] – Maundy Thursday. The Danish name has something to do with cleansing. This refers to a story of Jesus washing the feet of his followers.

Langfredag [lang-FREH-dah]. Whereas English-speakers call this the ’Good Friday’, Danes talk about the ’Long Friday’. This is the day when Jesus is said to have been nailed onto a kors (cross).

Påskedag [PAW-skeh-dah]. For Christians this is the most important day, as they believe that on this day, Jesus became alive again after having died. Even for non-Christians this is an important day in Denmark. Children receive påskeæg (Easter eggs) – chocolate ”eggs” said to have been laid in various places by Påskeharen (’The Easter Hare’). Many people eat lam (lamb) in the evening.

Anden påskedag [AN-n PAW-skeh-dah]. This is the Monday after påskedag. It is a public holiday in Denmark, and a chance to recover before everything’s back on track on Tuesday…

God påske!


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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.