I take a look at my calendar on the wall in my bedroom. I circle the day of my birthday about ten times and then underneath it I see something that I've never seen before, probably because it's never been on my birthday (or if it has I was either not alive, or I didn't notice it) until now. It says Victoria Day (Canada). I began to wonder what this strange holiday was that has taken over MY birthday. I'm guessing that most American Whyvillians don't know what it is either. You Canadians can correct me if I'm wrong.
Victoria Day is officially the Sovereign's (King/Queen's) birthday. The Sovereign's birthday was first observed in Ontario (then called Canada West) in 1845 to celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria of England, who reigned for 64 years.
After the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, an Act was passed by the Parliament of Canada establishing a legal holiday on May 24 in each year (or May 25 if May 24 was a Sunday) under the name Victoria Day, because of the queen of course. In 1957, Victoria Day was permanently appointed as the Queen's birthday in Canada. In the United Kingdom though, the Queen's birthday is now celebrated in June.
Victoria Day marks the beginning of the unofficial summer season in Canada, and is the weekend in which most businesses that operate during warm weather will open. This long weekend also signifies the beginning of spring to gardeners because it falls around the time when frost won't return until fall or winter time. This weekend also marks the beginning of cottage season, when most people make their first visits to check in and clean out their cottage houses.
Victoria Day has had many different names throughout the years. It been known as the Queen's Birthday, Empire Day, and Commonwealth Day. The holiday name was changed to Empire Day in the 1890s when the British Empire was at a peak. But by the mid-20th century, the Empire had given way to the Commonwealth, so the holiday became known as Commonwealth Day. In 1977 Commonwealth Day was moved to the second Monday in March and Canadians continued to celebrate Victoria Day in May.
Several Canadian cities hold a parade in honor of the holiday, with the most famous being in the monarch's namesake city of Victoria, British Columbia. This holiday is also often celebrated with fireworks shows.
In some parts of Canada, the holiday is known as May Two-Four. This phrase has two meanings: the holiday always falls near the date of May 24th, and two-four is Canadian slang for a case of 24 bottles of beer, a common packaging of the drink in Canada (and a common purchase of those planning to celebrate the weekend).
I decided to interview a few Canadians to see what they do for this holiday.
girlmusic: How old are you and what are you usually doing to celebrate Victoria Day?
rochrox: I'm 14. Let's see . . . well, I sleep in. That's about it. This year I'm going to see "The Taming of the Shrew", but not really in the Victoria Day spirit.
chelseee2: I am 13 and I usually am at my cabin on Victoria Day.
Vancyon: I'm thirteen, and I do nothing . . .
xo7JoA7ox: I'm 14 years old and I usually sleep in!
Then I interviewed some people who weren't Canadians, I think most were Americans, to see if they knew anything about it.
girlmusic: So now that you're certain you're not Canadians in disguise, do you have any idea what Victoria Day is?
shanban12: Um, I'm really sorry but I don't know what that is.
Nerdishh: I think it has something to do with Canada. I had to do a report on Canada once, and it might have something to do with Queen Victoria, but I don't know. It was two years ago.
SpacAngel: No idea what-so-ever.
Spiffygal: I think it has something to do with Canada but I'm not sure. I can look it up right now . . .
Well just like them, I had no idea what this holiday was until I researched it. But, my brother told me that Victoria meant victory in French or something so I thought they won a battle. I guess I was wrong. Well, thanks for reading, and hopefully you learned something.
This is girlmusic wondering what that strange beeping noise is . . .
Author's Note: Sources: