… the day that only Canadians understand:
Queen Victoria was mighty important … not everyone gets an era named after them … well, Kings George (I through IV) and King Edward VII did, too and so did Queen Elizabeth I, but the other 60+ monarchs over the past 1,500 years are largely forgotten … we don’t have eras named for Æthelbert or Æthelwulf or any of the several Williams or Henrys, so she matters a lot.
Queen Victoria was born on May 24th 1819 … the 24th of May is, normally, a pretty nice day in most parts of Canada so it was a good day for a party. She died in 1901 and her heir, King Edward VII (who also get an era named after him) was born on November 9th, which is not, normally, a good day for an outdoor party in Canada so, sensible forks that we are, we kept celebrating the royal birthday on May 24th … King George V was born in June, usually even better than May but we’d been celebrating the Sovereign’s birthday on May 24th for 90 years when he came to the throne in 1910 so it was a pretty well-entrenched custom. Some years ago we decided, sensible folks that we are, that since no one remembered who old ‘Widow of Windsor,’ as she was known, even was, we might as well make her birthday a movable feast and celebrate it on a long-weekend somewhere within shouting distance of May 24th. Today, 20 May 2019, is the day.
So, Happy Birthday, Ma’am, wherever you may be … and Happy official Canadian sovereign’s birthday to Queen Elizabeth, too. Her real birthday is 21 April … not always a nice day in Canada; even the Brits celebrate it in June because the weather is better for a big military parade. Victoria Day is, also, the oldest secular holiday in Canada … older than Canada Day (Dominion Day) or Labour Day or Boxing Day.
Now you know …