Monday, May 18, 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Victoria Day

It's the Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada.  Apparently we are the only country in the world which still celebrates Queen Victoria's birthday -- a hat tip to her role in our country's history. It's also known as "May Two-Four" -- not only a nod to the traditional celebration date of May 24th (Victoria's actual birthday -- these days, the holiday is celebrated on the Monday before May 24th to give us a long weekend, if May 24th itself is not a Monday) but also to the copious amounts of beer traditionally consumed on this weekend. It's considered the kickoff to summer, the weekend when cottage owners head north to open up their cottages for the season.

Growing up on the Prairies, I don't think I'd ever heard the term "May Two-Four" -- possibly because beer only came in cases of 6 and 12 bottles (that may have changed since then -- or maybe we were just too broke as kids/university students to buy more than a case of 12?? lol). I also don't remember much in the way of backyard fireworks, another staple of the May long weekend in Ontario.  I don't think they were legal in Manitoba in the 1970s. That may have changed too. Here, anyone can & does buy them from the back of a truck in shopping mall parking lots in the days leading up to the holiday. We watch from inside the house, delaying our bedtime until after the explosions have died down, nervously eyeing the trajectory of the light flashes and praying that a glowing ember doesn't land on our roof....! :p

Growing up on the Prairies, the "summer kickoff" connection was also a bit tenuous, because the weather could still be pretty cold. My parents would rarely, if ever, plant their garden (another Victoria Day weekend staple activity here in Ontario) until late May, because the risk of frost was still very real.

Of course, it's been pretty cold here in southern Ontario some years too. I can remember attending a first birthday party some years ago on the May long weekend for one of dh's cousins' kids. There were far too many people to hold the party indoors, but it was so cold (there were snowflakes in the air) we wound up huddled around the barbecue to keep warm.

And tomorrow will mark 25 years (!!!) since we moved into this house on the May long weekend. It was sunny but got quite cold overnight.  And we couldn't turn on the furnace even if we wanted to, because dh's uncle (our real estate agent) discovered that the previous owners had (for some unexplicable reason) removed the filter. By the time we figured this out, it was late on Saturday -- this was before the advent of Sunday shopping in Ontario, a few years later (!) and stores were also closed Monday for the Victoria Day holiday. So we just threw another quilt on our bed that night. :)

At any rate, even if summer is not quite here, this weekend is a sign that it's on its way. Finally.  Thank goodness!!

I'm not a huge Rush fan... but I love their song "Lakeside Park" -- especially the very end verse & musical coda (starting around the 2:30 mark), which references Victoria Day. It brings back great memories of teenaged summer evenings spent around a bonfire on the beach (on Lake Manitoba) with my friends. (I always thought they were singing about the Exhibition Place in Toronto, home of the annual Canadian National Exhibition -- but apparently Neil Peart wrote it about a lakeside park near his childhood home in Port Dalhousie, St. Catharines, Ontario.)

Everyone would gather
On the twenty-fourth of May
Sitting in the sand
To watch the fireworks display
Dancing fires on the beach
Singing songs together...
Though it's just a memory
Some memories last forever

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here       


  1. As I'm sure you've heard we awoke to snow here in the prairies. Big sigh. It was nice to have the extra day, nonetheless.

  2. Happy Victoria Day! 25 years is a long time -- congratulations.

  3. Happy Victoria Day! I'd never heard of it before today, but I can definitely get behind any holiday involving a long weekend! Here in the US we have a similar long weekend for Memorial Day (always the last Monday in May). It is a holiday to honor fallen troops but I think that most celebrate it in similar fashion to how you described Canadians celebrating Victoria Day.

  4. Happy long weekend from one prairie girl to another. :)

  5. Love this -- any excuse is a good one for fireworks and a summer kickoff. I feel like in the US, Memorial Day weekend is the summer kickoff, but we don't do fireworks so much for it. It's a shame. :)

  6. Here in Scotland it is Victoria Day too. It isn't a full public holiday but the schools are closed. Something that Scotland and Canada share :-).

  7. Wow, 25 years is very impressive! Congratulations on the anniversary and milestone. And wishing you a wonderful Victoria Day!

  8. I've never heard of May two-four before. I'm in Manitoba. I love it!
    Yup, snow this morning. I broke the gardening rule & bought plants befor May Long. Hope I can keep them alive inside for a few weeks till I'm brave enough to plant them.

  9. Happy Victoria Day, and happy house-iversary! :)

  10. It was a really nice long weekend, eh? I had 2 naps. Epic. And no booze at all. Weird.

  11. Yay, someone who's been living in their house longer than us! (We've been here 22 years.)

    Thanks for explaining May 2-4. I'd seen some references on Fb from Canadian (and US refugee) friends, and didn't really get it. We have Queen's Birthday in another week (first Monday of June), but that's for the current Queen, not Queen Victoria! Funny how holidays become part of the culture.

  12. HOW good was the weather this weekend? Perfect for a little gardening, a little BBQing, a little bike riding- everything I love most about summer.

    I appreciate spring so much after the last two winters as well.

  13. Hope you enjoyed your weekend and your house milestone:-)

    And I of course loved the Rush reference! Neil has quite a sentimental side.