Public holidays are almost the same throughout the Nordic countries, and the same applies to a large number of other special days that Greenland has in common with Denmark, in particular. Greenland does not have a Closing Days Act, so shops may open and close as they please. However, it is usual that shops remain closed on public holidays such as at Christmas and Easter, especially in the smaller towns and villages. In the larger towns, normally only the larger supermarkets are open on public holidays.
Public holidays in Greenland
Employees at most workplaces usually have the following public holidays off:
- 1 January: New Year's Day
- Easter: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. Easter Sunday falls no earlier than 22 March and no later than 25 April
- Prayer Day: Always falls on the Friday before the fourth Sunday after Easter; no earlier than 17 April and no later than 21 May
- Ascension Day: Falls 40 days after Easter Sunday, always on a Thursday; no earlier than 30 April and no later than 3 June. Please note that some schools and day-care centres are closed on the Friday after Ascension Day.
- Whitsun: Whit Sunday and Whit Monday. Whit Sunday is the seventh Sunday after Easter: no earlier than 10 May and no later than 13 June
- 25 December: Christmas Day
- 26 December: 2. Christmas Day
Days off under collective agreements in Greenland
You may be entitled to time off on some days that are not public holidays – it depends on what is stated in your contract, the staff handbook or your collective agreement. Days which can often be days off from work include:
- 1 May: Anniversary of the introduction of Home Rule / International Workers' Day (often a half day off)
- 21 June: Ullortuneq (Greenland's National Day)
- 24 December: Christmas Eve
- 31 December: New Year’s Eve
Other celebrations, flag days and special days in Greenland
- 6 January: Mitaarneq (Feast of the Epiphany)
- 5 February: HRH Crown Princess Mary’s birthday
- 6 February: HRH Princess Marie’s birthday
- February-March: Shrovetide falls on the seventh Sunday before Easter Sunday; no earlier than 1 February and no later than 7 March
- 23 March: Nordic Day
- 9 April: Denmark's occupation
- 16 April: HM Queen Margrethe’s birthday
- 29 April: HRH Princess Benedikte’s birthday
- 5 May: Liberation Day
- 26 May: HRH Crown Prince Frederik’s birthday
- 1 June: Children’s Day
- 5 June: Constitution Day (Denmark)
- 7 June: HRH Prince Joachim’s birthday
- 15 June: Valdemar's Day / Reunification Day
- 23 June: Midsummer Eve
- 3 July Hans Egede Day
- 23 September: West Nordic Day
- 24 October: UN Day
- 21 December: Solstice Day (ullukinneq)
Special Greenlandic days of celebration
Mitaarneq means 'to dress up/make faces' and is a tradition that can be traced far back in Inuit culture, in both East and West Greenland. Comparable traditions also exist among the North American Inuit peoples.
The fact that mitaarneq is celebrated on the Feast of the Epiphany probably originated with Danish settlers in the 1800s, as Denmark had a tradition of Danish boys walking the streets in fancy dress and singing hymns on the same day.
Children’s Day 1/6
While many other countries have adopted the UN World Children’s Day (20 November), children are still celebrated on 1 June in Greenland.
The day is celebrated in many ways and activities differ from town to town, and from year to year, but one thing is certain – the day belongs to the children.
Greenland's National Day is 21 June, the longest day of the year. The word ullortuneq may be translated as 'the longest day'.
The day was set by the Greenland Home Rule in 1985, and it was also the day on which the Act on Greenland Self-Government came into effect in 2009.
The day is celebrated in various ways in all the settlements, many of which hold a seal hunting competition in which hunters set off in their boats with the aim of being the first one to return with a seal.
New Year’s Eve 31/12
New Year's Eve is celebrated in much the same way as it is in the rest of the Danish Commonwealth.
However, one difference is that fireworks are not just set off once in Greenland – you can expect to hear the bangs and see the sky lit up as many as four times: at 20:00 for the Danish New Year, 22:00 for the Faroese New Year, 23:00 for the East Greenlandic New Year and midnight for the West Greenlandic New Year.
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