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Festivals and traditions


Forty days before Easter

The season of Lent (in Danish fastetiden or simply faste) is the period between Quinquagesima Sunday and Easter, a period of 40 fast days. 

In the tradition of the Church, fasting is never about starving but rather about doing without luxury. On Quinquagesima Sunday we read about Jesus' baptism. Once Jesus was baptised, his mission on earth began. The following Sundays the Bible passages that we read in church relate how Jesus spent 40 days in the desert where he fasted and was tempted by the devil. Jesus rejected the temptation. The season of Lent reflects Jesus' 40 days in the desert. It symbolises a spiritual battle and challenges, and encourages us to persevere whenever we find ourselves in a spiritual battle.

Fasting and the church

Until the Reformation in the 16th century the season of Lent was a 40-day period of penitence. Throughout the centuries there have been different regulations or directions for how to fast. Usually they touched on what was considered a luxury at the time. Examples of this are meat, eggs and white flour. The goal of fasting was a spiritual preparation for the Easter message of Jesus' resurrection and victory over death.

New traditions

In the Bible's Old Testament we read how some prophets are critical when it comes to giving regulations and directions for fasting. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark does not have any such regulations. However, many parish churches re-establish old traditions for Lent and some create new ones. One way to celebrate Lent is to do without certain things for 40 days. Another way to celebrate Lent is to create room for reflection and action in the church room, for example by converting specific areas in the room into areas where you can learn about Lent, find prayers to pray or make a concrete donation. A third way to observe Lent is to hold a church service on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of the 40 fast days. A growing number of churches have Ash Wednesday services. 

If you are interested in knowing what happens in your local parish church during the season of Lent, one option is to contact the pastor of the church or the church office. Go to the page Find a church to find your church and the contact information required.

Annunciation Day

Annunciation Day (in Danish Mariæ bebudelses dag) is the name of the day when the Church celebrates that Mary meets the angel Gabriel and is told that she will be giving birth to Jesus. Annunciation Day falls on the Sunday before Palm Sunday, i.e. on the fifth Sunday during the season of Lent, approximately nine months before Christmas.

In many congregations the day is associated with music. This is because a lot of church music has been composed in honour of Mary. The liturgical colour on Annunciation Day is white, which is the colour of a feast in the Church.