Is this your favorite long weekend of the year? Seems it has become known as “The May Long” or “May Two-Four” and it signifies many things to us here on the Canadian prairie: planting gardens, getting yards in tip-top shape, firing up the barbecue, the start of camping season, garage sales, outdoor festivals, and the unofficial kick-off of our shortest and most cherished season.
What is it, anyway?
Victoria Day occurs on the Monday before May 25 each year and honours Queen Victoria, whose actual birthday fell on May 24 and who reigned from 1837 to 1901 (during which time the population of Britain doubled). She still holds the record as the longest-reigning British monarch, even though she needed to survive her father and three uncles in order to wear the crown.
So why is Victoria’s birthday a holiday and not any or every other monarch? Maybe because she was so interesting. Her mother was a German princess, so she spoke German first, then English, French, and Hindi. Her first name was actually Alexandrina and her family nicknamed her “Drina.” Having lost her father when she was still an infant, she was only 18 when she was crowned. She married her first cousin, Albert, whom she was crazy about all her life. They had nine kids, eight of whom later sat on thrones in Europe. She was the one who started the trend, apparently, of white wedding dresses—but after Albert’s death she wore only black for the rest of her days. Queen Victoria survived seven assassination attempts, although why so many wanted her dead isn’t clear. She enjoyed singing, painting, drawing, and keeping a journal which encompasses 122 volumes.
Did you know…?
In some Canadian cities, Victoria Day is celebrated with fireworks or parades. Not surprisingly, Victoria, BC, (named for the Queen) holds such festivities and I wonder if the children who live there assume that “Victoria Day” is a celebration of their home town. I wonder if all the women named Victoria or Vicki think the holiday is for them. I wonder why there is no holiday named for me. Oh wait. Maybe that’s what April the first is for.
My most memorable May Long.
The 1981 May long weekend was the longest weekend in the history of the world—my world, anyway. With my first child nine days past due and my body so swollen I qualified as a capacity crowd, I felt thrilled when labour finally started on Friday afternoon. Notions, my dad called it. All of his daughters had to endure the final weeks of our pregnancies answering Dad’s daily query: “having any notions yet?”
Happy as I was when the notions arrived, it seemed to me that three and a half years passed between that Friday evening and Sunday afternoon when our healthy, 9 pound, 7 ounce son was finally delivered by Caesarean section. While it may have been my longest weekend, it was also the most rewarding. And the fringe benefit? Our son always gets a long weekend on or close to his birthday.
So, happy 33rd birthday to our handsome firstborn, and Happy Victoria Day to all! Enjoy your May Long.