Home > holidays > Happy Victoria Day, All You Canucks

Happy Victoria Day, All You Canucks

Monday, May 23, 2011, 08:19 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Queen VictoriaI hear my north-of-the-border readers are celebrating a holiday today, this being the last Monday on or before May 24. It commemorates the birthday of Queen Victoria, who was by most accounts a sort of Frank Sinatra monarch, doing it her way. She married her first cousin, something that shocks our modern sensibilities but wasn’t all that uncommon amongst royalty for centuries. She had nine children and survived multiple assassination attempts. After her husband/cousin died young of typhoid fever, she wore mourning for the rest of her life, which didn’t stop her from maybe (or maybe not) engaging one of her servants in an affair that had all of Britain atwitter decades before Twitter. When all was said and done, she reigned longer than any other British monarch any other queen in history, though it is entirely possible that she will be superseded in that distinction by her great-great-granddaughter, Elizabeth, in a few more years.

How does one celebrate such a holiday? My extensive (10 minutes of web surfing) research on the topic reveals that, much like American celebrate holidays like George Washington’s birthday, our neighbors use the holiday as an excuse to take a long weekend from school and work, do some gardening, begin summer activities, or take a mini-vacation. Sadly, most national holidays (in any country) no longer feature much, if any, observance of the events they mark; I would guess that Canadians are thinking less this weekend about Victoria than about, say, partying; the holiday is popularly known as “May 2-4,” which someone once told me is not merely a reference to the queen’s birth date but also a nod to the number of beers in a case. That’s really no worse than the habit of American businesses to shamelessly trumpet commerce as the appropriate way to observe Memorial Day. (“Hey, hundreds of thousands of our countrymen and -women have died in various and sundry wars, making this weekend the perfect time to save 20% off a new gas grill!”)

But back to the topic at hand, Queen Victoria. Did you know that her first name wasn’t even Victoria? It was Alexandrina, which I think would have made a totally kick-ass name for a queen. I’ll bet a Queen Alexandrina wouldn’t even object if people chose to celebrate her birthday with a cold beer.

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