Happy Victoria Day!
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Victoria Day is celebrated on the first Monday preceding May 25th, in honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday. On this day we also recognize Canada‘s reigning sovereign’s official birthday.It is a statutory holiday throughout all of Canada except the Atlantic provinces (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island).
The holiday has been observed since before Canada was formed, originally falling on the sovereign’s actual birthday, and continues to be celebrated in various fashions across the country on the fixed date. In Quebec, the same day was, since the Quiet Revolution, unofficially known as Fête de Dollard until 2003, when provincial legislation officially named the same date as Victoria Day the National Patriots’ Day. It is a statutory holiday federally, as well as in six of Canada’s ten provinces and all three of its territories.
Who was Queen Victoria?
Victoria, who was queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and empress of India, was born in 1819. She was only 18 when she took over the throne in 1837 after her uncle George IV died. She ruled until her death in 1901, when her son Edward the VII became the King of England.
Queen Victoria was born on May 24th but Canadians celebrate Victoria Day on the Monday before May 24. Victoria Day became a popular holiday in Ontario (it was Canada West back then) in 1845 and a national holiday in 1901. First Victoria Day was called Empire Day, then later called Commonwealth Day and now we call it Victoria Day.
“Timewatch: Young Victoria”, a BBC documentary was published on Oct 18, 2012. Many of us have an image of Queen Victoria as a dour, restrictive woman. But, as Dr. Kate Williams explores in ‘Young Victoria’, the reality is very different. Based on her research, ‘Young Victoria’ will show the hidden story of behind the Queen who brought us into the modern age – and how she saved the very institution of monarchy itself.
Victoria Day Trivia
- The earliest postage stamps in the world were the Penny Black of the United Kingdom and had the head of Queen Victoria on them. They were first used on May 6, 1840.
- As a kid, Queen Victoria was trained to keep her chin up. To help her out, holly was put under her collar to irritate her if she put her chin down.
- Victoria’s mom spoke German at home and even though she ruled England for 64 years, Victoria never learned to speak perfect English.
- Queen Victoria was the last teenager to rule England.
- Some cities celebrate this day with fireworks in the evening.
After the death of Queen Victoria, 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 fell on a Sunday) under the name Victoria Day. An amendment to the Statutes of Canada in 1952 established the celebration of Victoria Day on the Monday preceding May 25, making it the first long weekend of the summer season.
From 1953 to 1956, the Queen’s birthday was celebrated in Canada on Victoria Day. In 1957, Victoria Day was permanently appointed as the Queen’s birthday in Canada. In the United Kingdom, the Queen’s birthday is celebrated in June.
Victoria Day has also been known as the Queen’s Birthday, Empire Day, and Commonwealth Day. The holiday name was changed to Empire Day in the 1890s when enthusiasm for the British Empire was at a peak. By the mid-20th century, however, 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.