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We know that most of you are basking in the sun today. And why not? Taking advantage of one of Canada’s favourite weekends, a good number of Canadians are either at the cottage or at someone’s barbeque enjoying the extra day off work. It’s Victoria Day today in Canada, although most refer to today as the culmination of the May Two-Four Weekend.
And yes, while this weekend marks the unofficial start of summer in Canada, today actually technically marks the celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday. Wikipedia.org outlines the history of the holiday by noting that May 24th was first acknowledged by Canadian parliament in 1845 after legislation passed to recognize the Queen’s birthday.
There have been numerous ways in which Canadians have celebrated Victoria Day throughout the years. In 1854, Queen Victoria’s 35th birthday was comemmorated by 5,000 residents who gathered at Government House in Toronto to “give cheers to their queen” and by 1866, gun salutes, serenades, picnics, athletic competitions and torch-light processions all made their way into the Victoria Day celebrations.
When Queen Victoria passed away in 1901, the 24th of May was officially decreed as Empire Day throughout Britain. However, over the following several decades, Canada’s official date of celebrating the reigning sovereign’s birthday changed depending on who was being recognized. In 1952, however, this all stopped when the Governor-General-in-Council insisted that Empire Day be acknowledged on the Monday before May 25.
Not long after, Empire Day became known as Commonwealth Day and was moved to the second Monday in March. Since 1977, May 24th has solely been Queen Victoria’s day. And Canadians love her for it! One wonders, however, if the Queen would approve of the modern-day celebrations that are very loosely in her honour.
As mentioned earlier, most Canadians refer to this long weekend as “May Two Four”. This, of course, not only acknowledges the date on the calendar but the popular cases of beer that contain 24 bottles within them! Today, of course, is a great day for barbeques with plenty to eat and plenty to drink.
We most definitely advocate that you drink responsibly to truly enjoy the extra day off work. Obviously, you don’t want to show up tomorrow morning with a hangover. The sun is shining in Southern Ontario today, so it is a perfect day for celebration. Celebrating wisely, however, is important.
Some enjoy picnics or barbeques celebrating time with family and friends. Many love to go off to see some fireworks in the evening. And many others simply take the extra day off to relax. Whatever you choose to do today, be safe and have fun! Happy Victoria Day Canada!