Last weekend many of us got to enjoy a long weekend. For me, it was one of the only stat holiday (aside from Christmas and New Year’s day) I can remember actually taking off. Three days off in a row was glorious.
It got me reflecting on the why of it. Of course, I knew that it was conceived in honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday, which was May 24, 1819. It used to always be celebrated on the day itself (unless that day was a Sunday, in which case it was celebrated on Monday the 25th).
Sometime around the 1950s, though, Parliament decided to fix it on the Monday preceding May 25, so it is always a long weekend on the second last Monday of the month.
After Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne, her birthday was celebrated on Victoria Day by proclamation.
The holiday actually predates Canada making it our longest-standing holiday having been observed since 1845.
This was shortly after the provinces of Upper Canada (English) and Lower Canada (French) united in 1841.
It was thought at the time a holiday based the British monarch’s birthday would unify English and French. Just how ill-conceived was that?
I suppose now, it will become Charles’s birthday, although I can’t imagine there will be much celebrating of that considering the majority of us don’t even want his image on our money.
Of course, very few of us have ever really given a (insert your own colourful metaphor here) about the monarch’s birthday. In fact, most of us don’t even refer to it as Victoria Day anymore. Most commonly we just call it, “May long.”
It’s another indication of how outdated and irrelevant the monarchy has become. I now believe it’s only a matter of time before Canada does the right thing and officially cuts ties with the British Crown.
When we do, we will obviously keep the day off, but will we keep the name Victoria Day as some vestige of our historical loyalty?