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The inconvenience of easter in Denmark

Comedian Conrad Molden puts an amusing spin on påske ferie in Denmark.

Photographs: Unsplash

Text: Conrad Molden

When I think of Easter in Denmark, I do not think of rabbits, eggs or Jesus; I think of Aldi. For a bizarre reason that very few can explain, this German discount supermarket chain is one of the only things open during Easter in Denmark. Around the same time every year, everything slowly starts to shut down, and a new silence fills the Danish landscape. The deserted streets and empty windows of Denmark during Easter resemble the apocalyptic wasteland of I Am Legend, except for Aldi. Despite the doom, it stands with doors open and thus becomes the beacon for all the confused zombies to congregate. And at the back of that confused zombie crowd is me.

How does this happen? Inevitably, on Påskedag, you will suddenly and simultaneously run out of toilet paper, olive oil, detergent, and every edible item in your refrigerator. And this catastrophe will happen precisely twenty minutes before you even realise it is Påskedag. Naively you will leave the house, desperate for something to eat and needing the toilet, and nineteen minutes later, reach the locked doors of your local Danish supermarket. Then a sudden realisation will wash over you like a cold shower: “F*ck, it’s påske. Everything will be closed… I need to find an Aldi….” A terrible task. You hope you won’t bump into anyone you know during this embarrassing experience. But you will: inside Aldi.

“The whole period feels chaotic, as though some great plague of rabbits and angry painted eggs are descending on civilisation, and life cannot remain the same.”

It isn’t just the long queues at Aldi that make me dislike Easter. The confusing date system that determines this holiday makes Easter just become an inconvenience. There is no set date, no central information as to what will-and-will-not-be-open-and-for-how-long? Too many websites and confused faces. The whole period feels chaotic, as though some great plague of rabbits and angry painted eggs are descending on civilisation, and life cannot remain the same. We must do as much food shopping as possible, refuse to make plans for all of March and April, and stay inside. I just know that whatever shopping plans I make in the days before, I will inevitably end up in a queue in Aldi. The words “påskeåbningstider” make me feel unwell.

My biggest grievance with Easter is not purely the confusing opening times. It is just the amount of Påske and confusing opening times. Most holidays are kind enough to make sense: Halloween is one day and always the 31st of October. Clear, defined, predictable. You can plan a calm and stress-free life around that. Things are open and activities optional. Easter, however, sneaks up on you like an ambush. No matter how much you try to ignore it, it will catch you off-guard in the spring as you push the clothes into the washing machine only to realise the detergent is completely empty.

The date system Easter insists on using is deliberately impossible to understand. The algorithm tells us when to close (almost all) the supermarkets require a degree in astrophysics and the patience of a saint. It revolves around planets, the equinox and full moons. So pick a day, Easter and stop bothering us.

And, it isn’t just Easter Day. Hanging around it is an unwanted entourage, like members of an irritating boy band including Palmesøndag, Skærtorsdag, Langfredag, Store bededag, Kristi himmelfartsdag, Pinsedag. There is even a “2nd” Påskedag and a “2nd” Pinsedag. Unwanted sequels to the already unwelcome marathon we are put through every year. And it could be even more exhausting: Store bededag (Big prayer day) was created just to bring together all the smaller prayer days because apparently there were too many!

I have a solution for you, Easter. You could be manageable if you just brought all your random boy band members together. Take your half-days, lowered flags, cardamom bread, gækkebrevs, påskebryg, akvavit and eggs with mustard into one well-defined date we can all understand. And please keep Føtex open that day too.

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