It was in 1845 that Canada’s Legislature first declared May 24, Queen Victoria’s birthday, a holiday. After Victoria’s death in 1901, Parliament passed an Act that established a legal holiday on May 24 in each year (or May 25 if May 24 fell on a Sunday) under the name Victoria Day. Since then, the birthday of each of the subsequent kings and queens has been celebrated on or around that same day. A later amendment to the Act of Parliament established the celebration of Victoria Day on the Monday preceding May 25. And this is why we celebrated Victoria Day today, even though it is only the 19th. While the official name of the holiday is Victoria Day, many Canadians refer to it as “May Twenty-Four.” The queen’s birthday has largely been forgotten and instead the day tends to mark the unofficial beginning of the summer season.
The traditional way to celebrate the day (or more often the whole weekend) is to head to a cottage or campground and to drink oneself into oblivion—a fairly popular Canadian pastime. For this reason the holiday has become known colloquially as “May two four.” (A “two four” is a Canadian term for a case of beer that contains, of course, twenty four bottles). For many Canadians it is the weekend they open their cottages after spending a winter away. The long weekend concludes with fireworks displays as soon as it is dark enough to see them. Many people find themselves unwilling or unable to remain awake after dark on Monday night, so it’s not unusual to find firework displays throughout the weekend. Some towns host “official” displays while in others neighbors get together and fire off their own. Victoria Day is one of only two days where Canadians tend to use fireworks (the other being July 1 or Canada Day).
Monday, May 19, 2008
Since I'm an American, I had no idea that today is a holiday celebrated by our friends in the North. Tim Challies has the scoop.