Today, Monday May 23, is Victoria Day holiday. This day is celebrated in honour of the birthdays of both Queen Victoria and the current monarch of Canada.
Victoria Day is a Canadian statutory holiday celebrated on the Monday preceding May 25 in every province and territory. In Quebec this holiday is called “National Patriotes Day” (Journée nationale des patriotes).
Victoria Day is also commonly referred to as the “May two-four weekend” or the “May long weekend”. For many people, the long Victoria Day weekend marks the end of the winter and the unofficial start of the spring or summer season. After this weekend, gardeners can be reasonably sure that there will be no more frost until Fall so they can plant out delicate crops and plants. For the same reason, the weekend marks the unofficial start of the cottage season whereby people with recreational homes in colder parts of the country often go to them to open them up for the summer. In addition, many amusement parks and outdoor attractions open for their summer season this weekend.
Queen Victoria was born on May 24, 1819. Following the death of 3 uncles and her father, she became Queen of the United Kingdom on June 20, 1837 and reigned until her death on January 22, 1901. During Victoria’s life, the British Empire expanded considerably. However, her powers as Queen of the United Kingdom were reduced as the House of Commons became more important and powerful in British politics.
The monarch’s birthday has been celebrated in Canada since before the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign. After her death, in 1901, May 25 became known as Empire Day. The sovereign’s official birthday was still celebrated, often on the King’s or Queen’s actual birthday. In 1952, Empire Day was moved to the Monday before May 25 and since 1953, the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II has been celebrated on this date in Canada. In 1958, Empire Day became known as Commonwealth Day, which was moved to the second Monday in March. The Monday before May 25 then became known as Victoria Day, which is a Canadian statutory holiday.
Victoria Day is a non-statutory “general” holiday in the maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland. In Quebec the National Patriots’ Day is commemorated on this day.
Source: statutoryholidays.com; timeanddate.com