For many Canadians, the Victoria Day holiday weekend is the time to start thinking about summer. Bonus: It’s a day off school! But why do we celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria, who died nearly 115 years ago?
Until 1956, the birthday of the monarch—that’s the king or queen—of Great Britain was also celebrated in Canada, sometimes on his or her own birthday, sometimes around that time and sometimes on Victoria Day.
She was queen when Canada became its own country in 1867, and she was the one who chose Ottawa as our capital. After she died in 1901, the Canadian government declared that May 24 would be a holiday in her honour. (If the 24th fell on a Sunday, the holiday would be May 25.)
In 1957, Victoria Day was named the official birthday in Canada of Queen Elizabeth II. (In Great Britain, her birthday, which is actually April 21, is celebrated in June.) And Victoria Day is officially held on the Monday right before May 25.