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Holidays 101

Why do we celebrate Victoria Day?

Published on February 01, 2022 | Last Updated May 15, 2023
Victoria Day fireworks over Parliament Hill in Ottawa

For some, Victoria Day is a sign that summer is just around the corner. The holiday is only celebrated in Canada and Scotland. It began as a celebration to honour Queen Victoria’s birthday.

Happy birthday, Queen Victoria!

Portrait of Queen Victoria in black and whiteThe British queen was born on May 24, 1819. She was a reigning monarch (queen) for 63 years, seven months and two days.

Victoria Day was declared a Canadian holiday by the government in 1845.

At that time, it was celebrated with picnics, parades, sporting tournaments, fireworks and cannon salutes.

When Queen Victoria died in 1901, Canada’s parliament officially named the holiday Victoria Day.

It was decided that the day would be celebrated on the second last Monday in May. In 2023, that's May 22nd.

Holidays are better on Mondays

a family camping with a tent near a river

Some places might still be a little chilly, but camping is popular on Victoria Day long weekend.

In 1952, the government made the decision to begin celebrating Victoria Day on a Monday. It would be observed on May 24th if that worked out. Otherwise, it would be held on the Monday right before it.

Today, Victoria Day is a holiday throughout most of Canada. The day is usually marked in most cities with parades, outdoor events and activities like camping and fireworks displays. Today, it might be marked in different ways that allow people to keep a safe distance. That could be virtually online, on television or as a family in the backyard.

Quebec has its own holiday

In Quebec, they celebrate a different holiday on the Monday right before May 25th. It's called Journée nationale des patriotes (National Patriots Day).

It replaced a holiday called Fête de Dollard in 2003, which had replaced Victoria day in 1918.

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