What is The History of the Victoria Day Holiday?



“Great events make me quiet and calm; it is only trifles that irritate my nerves." - Queen Victoria 

Earlier this week, I had a client who was discussing the upcoming long weekend and asked why it was referred to as "Victoria Day".  In a haste to sound knowledgeable, I responded that it was in honor of Queen Victoria but really had no idea how the holiday had come to be or why it falls on a specific weekend as opposed to a specific date.  I did a bit of research and thought you might be able to surprise your friends with some holiday trivia this weekend.


One of the most interesting things about Victoria Day that I did not know was that Canada is one of the only countries that actually celebrates this holiday.  It doesn't even really exist in most parts of England, but is celebrated in some parts of Scotland (including Edinburgh which recognizes it as an official holiday).


This long weekend often represents the beginning of summer for many Canadians.  However, not all of Canada recognizes this holiday in the same fashion.  Quebec has typically shown a lackluster attitude towards the monarchy and has gone so far as to rename it National Patriots Day in 2003.  The holiday was originally established to celebrate Queen Victoria's birthday and then was changed by the Canadian government in 1952 to be celebrated on the Monday closest to May 24th to ensure a long weekend.  It is sometimes known as the "2-4 long weekend" to mark the numbers in Queen Victoria's birthday and, conveniently enough, the number of beer cans in a flat (often enjoyed during a long weekend).


Queen Victoria was the longest reigning monarch and resided on the throne for almost 64 years.  She was married to her first cousin and had 9 children and 34 grandchildren!  An interesting bit of trivia about Queen Victoria is that she is often recognized as starting the trend of wearing a white wedding dress.  This is often not the side of the royal that is portrayed in movies and television shows as she is typically shown wearing all black.  When her husband passed away, she mourned his passing by wearing black for the rest of her life and went into seclusion for some time.  One quote that seems to reflect her attitude towards marriage is “When I think of a merry, happy, free young girl — and look at the ailing, aching state a young wife generally is doomed to — which you can’t deny is the penalty of marriage.” Yikes!