Victoria Day is an historic holiday originally held every year on the Monday before 24 May to mark the birthday of Queen Victoria.
|Year||Date||Day||Holiday||Provinces and Territories|
|2019||20 May||Mon||Victoria Day||National except NB, NL,
NS, PEI & QC
|2020||18 May||Mon||Victoria Day||National except NB, NL,
NS, PEI & QC
The holiday goes by many colloquial names such as “The May 24 long weekend” and “The May long weekend”. It is also popularly referred to as “May Long” and “May two-four“. Victoria Day became a national holiday in the year 1901, the year that Queen Victoria died.
The date of the holiday has been contentious over the years, and 51 years after the Queen’s death, the Canadian Parliament ruled that Victoria Day should be celebrated on the Monday before May 24th. This change was to ensure that the Canadian population would be guaranteed a long weekend regardless of which date the holiday fell on. Now, the holiday is subject to the calendar, even though it is still referred to as the May 24th holiday.
While the holiday was originally implemented to celebrate the life of Queen Victoria, the holiday is also dedicated to celebrating the birthday of Britain’s reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Elizabeth has a number of different birthdays to celebrate, too. She was actually born in April, but Canada celebrates her life alongside Queen Victoria in May.
Even Great Britain celebrates Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday late – they mark the occasion in June. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the holiday. When a group of Canadians were polled in 2015, almost half of the participants did not know the reason that Victoria Day was a holiday.
Even though the Commonwealth still has a large number of foreign members, Canada is the only country that celebrates the birthday of Queen Victoria. There are some parts of Scotland that also celebrate the holiday, but it is not a public holiday in Scotland like it is in Canada.
Not all of the Canadian provinces and territories recognise Victoria Day. The holiday is not recognised as a public holiday in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland or Labrador. The holiday is also controversial in Quebec, a province that rarely celebrates national holidays with the same enthusiasm as its neighbours. In Quebec, Victoria Day is known as National Patriots Day to honour the deaths of the Canadians who rebelled against the British government.
Victoria Day is one of the few days of the year where Canada celebrates its colonial history. On this day, the British Union Jack flag is flown alongside the Canadian flag on government buildings such as airports and military bases. However, there are special provisions to this rule. The Canadian flag should never be replaced by a Union Jack flag, for instance. If there is only one flag pole, the building is not required to fly the Union Jack flag, and they are under no obligation to install an additional flagpole to mark the holiday.
Many Canadians mark the holiday as the start of summer. In fact, some Canadians believe that the holiday was created as a response the United States’ Memorial Day. Many Canadians take this long weekend as an opportunity to get started in their gardens. Those who own cottages or vacation properties often make visits to prepare the house for the summer.
Many hotels and resorts are crowded with visitors who are taking advantage of the long holiday weekend to get away and enjoy the first days of the summer weather. Canadians will also take the weekend to go camping and popular resorts include Algonquin and Rouge Park. Families across Canada can also watch impressive displays during their annual fireworks shows. Whether it is spent at home or away, Canadians look forward to this weekend as the start of summer weather.