Arts & Culture

Constitution Day in Denmark

Have you been seeing an excessive amount of flag waving around Denmark lately? Maybe not (flags are brought out to commemorate everything from birthdays to weddings, after all) but the annual peak comes on June 5th, Denmark’s Constitution Day.

Grundlovsdag in Danish, Constitution Day celebrates two important moments in history: 1849, when the Constitution declaring Denmark a Constitutional Monarchy was signed and 1953, when the fourth and most recent Constitution was adopted.

The original Danish Constitution, signed by King Frederik VII, abolished the absolute monarchy and provided a set of citizen’s rights. The document drew inspiration largely from the Constitution of Norway and, in terms of human rights, from the Bill of Rights of the USA Constitution.

Since then, the Constitution has been updated four times (1866, 1915, 1920, 1953). Because there is no amendment process, the document itself has to be updated each time. The most recent edition eliminated the Upper Chamber, creating a unicameral parliament. It also allowed for females to inherit the throne and decreased the percentage of parliamentary votes necessary to change the Constitution (down from 45% to 40%).

In terms of human rights, the Danish Constitution is relatively fundamental; in 1992 the European Convention on Human Rights was adopted to Danish law, raising the bar on these rights considerably.

Constitution Day is a special day in Denmark; offices are closed and most businesses like restaurants are only open until noon, if at all. Traditionally, the day has been celebrated with political rallies and meetings; there are few other customs surrounding Constitution Day. Father’s Day also happens to be on June 5, so for many it’s a great opportunity to spend time with family.

However you spend your Constitution Day, we hope the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and you enjoy the holiday!

Image Credit: Santiago S.V., edited by Freya McOmish

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