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Happy May Long Weekend

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

Even though I'm forever on a long weekend, here in Italy it isn't a holiday this weekend. In Canada, you are full swing into your weekend and depending on where you are in Canada you may be sleeping on a Saturday night.

We celebrate two holidays in Canada on Monday, Victoria Day and National Patriots’ Day, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about both these holidays this weekend. Interestingly enough for most Canadians this is the unofficial start to summer.

Victoria Day

This holiday began as a celebration to honour Queen Victoria, who ruled Great Britain and Ireland for over 63 years. She was born on May 24th 1837 and Victoria’s birthday was made an official holiday in 1901 after her death.

Celebrating the monarch’s birthday is a long tradition in Canada, going back to George the III’s reign in the 18th and 19th century. Like in England, Canada associated this holiday with the military, although England’s “Trooping the Color” parade was way more impressive than Canada’s militia muster. One day per year everyone would come from the farms with their pitch forks and muskets and whatever else they had and would march around for a little bit, then go to the pub for a beer.

May 24th stuck as the holiday until 1953 where we now celebrate the holiday on the Monday prior to May 25th. Fun fact, on Sunday May 1st it was Italy's "Labour Day", however if a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, Italian's don't get the Monday off in lieu. I think we are better off in Canada!

Back to Victoria Day - It not only celebrates Queen Victoria’s birthday and recognition to her contributions to Canada but also celebrates Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday (even though she was born in April). This day reminds us we live in a constitutional monarchy and the Queen is our “Head of State”. This is a day to celebrate our democracy, our Parliamentary traditions, our Westminster system of government, the rule of law – all core features of Canada we cherish.

Queen Victoria is also known as the “Mother of Confederation” as she believed Confederation would reduce defense costs and strengthen relations with the United States.

Some fun facts:

  • Prince Edward Island got its name in 1799 honouring Queen Victoria’s father Prince Edward, who lived in Canada for ten years and was commander of British Forces in North America

  • Queen Victoria proposed to her husband in 1839 and they were married in 1840, where she began the tradition of white lacy wedding dresses

  • Victoria, British Columbia is named after Queen Victoria. It was Fort Victoria in 1843 and incorporated as a city in 1862

  • Ottawa was named the capital of the United Provinces of Canada by Queen Victoria in 1857

  • Queen Victoria gave the name British Columbia to the province when it became a colony in 1858

  • Regina, Saskatchewan was named after Queen Victoria in 1882

  • Alberta was named after Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise Alberta in 1882

  • Victoria day is celebrated by Canada and Scotland

  • Queen Victoria isn’t her first name. She was named Alexadrina Victoria but preferred to go by the name Victoria

  • Her name lives on all over the world, from lakes to mountains, cities to street signs and park

National Patriots’ Day (Journée nationale des patriotes)

As Victoria Day, National Patriots’ Day is celebrated on the Monday before May 25th each year in Quebec. It is a commemoration of the Lower Rebellion of 1837.

Following early exploration the French established a colony in Canada which became French Canada and Quebec City was founded in 1608. In 1763 after Great Britain’s victory over France and Spain, the French ceded it’s territories to the British under the Treaty of Paris.

Inspired with movements of independence and the American Revolution in other parts of the Americas, the Patriote movement grew in popularity as a reaction against British colony rule over what was previously French territory. The Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837 – 1838 was a political movement that was eventually suppressed by British military, but the actions of these rebels is a key historical event for Quebec and its enduring sense of identity.

In 2003 National Patriots’ Day was declared a public holiday to honour and remember the sacrifices of the Quebec rebels. It replaced the unofficial holiday called ‘la Fete de Dollard” which honoured Adam Dollard, a 17th-century military hero.

Here are some recipes you can make with the kids on the long weekend.

  • Honey Roasted Nuts – these have a little zing in them but once you eat one you won’t be able to stop. I created them to put into my coffee cake so that it would give the cake more depth in flavour.

  • Sunday Banana Bread – the pineapple makes this bread so moist that the kids can’t stop eating it. Recipe can be made into muffins, large or small and then easily shared.

  • Monday Apple Bites – my grandsons call these “Nonna’s donut holes” as they look like donut holes. So simple to make in the fried or baked version

Wherever you are in Canada, take time to enjoy the long weekend and make cherished memories with all the people you surround yourself with. It is the time we take away from work that allows us to detox from it all and then get back with a clear mind. Balance is everything so do it every opportunity you can. Live Life Well ALWAYS!

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