It’s grundlovsdag (constitution day) today - the closest thing Denmark has to a national day. It celebrates the first democratic constitution that was signed by King Frederik VII. on June 5, 1849, and established the constitutional monarchy with a representative parlamentary system in Denmark.
Here are some interesting facts about the Danish Constitution (Danmarks Riges Grundlov):
- There have been new constitutions in 1866, 1915, 1920 and, lastly, in 1953, which holds to this day. Interestingly enough, the Danish Constitution was never amended, instead, it was always fully rewritten.
- The word “King” in the constitution is to be read as “government”, due to the king’s symbolic status. Article 3 states that the executive power lies with the king, but he king or queen is thus acting through his/ her ministers, who form the government.
- The constitution before the 1849 one, the “King’s Law” (Kongeloven) is, in parts, not superseded and therefore still intact.
- If the king or queen wants to be regent in another country, he/ she needs the approval of parliament (Folketinget) - let’s see if that will ever be necessary! I somehow don’t see Denmark going out there and conquering other countries any time soon!
- The prime minister (statsministeren),all other ministers and even the king/ queen swear an oath on the constitution upon inaguration.
Grundlovsdag used to be a half-day off for everyone between 1891 and 1975. Even though it no longer is a “real” holiday, many companies and unions have negotiated this to be a free day for their employees (such as the company I work for, which makes for a nice, five-day weekend!). Many outdoors events are held to celebrate the occasion, and most political parties have “grundlovsfester” or “grundlovsmøder”, with speeches and all. These have evolved into political campaigning events rather than celebrations of the Danish constitution, however, the element of the “folkefest” (people’s celebration) still holds, and it is not uncommon to light bonfires at night.
Note that a lot of stores and supermarkets will be closed, but Politiken has a list of stores that are open.
Will you be celebrating “grundlovsdag”? And does your country have similar events on constitution day/ national day?
This post also appeared on my guest blog on denmark.dk - visit it here!