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Why do we celebrate Victoria Day?


Photo by Duncan Rawlinson licensed CC BY-NC 2.0

Queen VictoriaFor some, Victoria Day is a sign that summer is just around the corner. The holiday, which is only celebrated in Canada and Scotland, began as a celebration to honour Queen Victoria’s birthday. The British queen was born on May 24, 1819. She is the longest reigning monarch (Queen) in England, remaining on her throne for 63 years, 216 days. On September 9th, 2015, Queen Elizabeth II took the title of longest reigning monarch in British history.

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. And it was decided that the day would be celebrated on May 24th each year (or on May 25th if the 24th fell on a Sunday).

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 immediately before it. Today, Victoria Day is a holiday throughout all of Canada. And, in Quebec, a holiday called Journée nationale des patriotes is celebrated on the same day.

As far as today’s celebrations, Victoria Day is marked in most cities with parades, outdoor events and activities like camping and elaborate firework displays.

Victoria Day celebrations in Toronto

Photo by Lone Primate licensed CC BY-NC-SA 2.0