Victoria Day is a time for Canadians to pay homage to Queen Victoria, the iconic monarch who ruled with both an iron fist and a loving heart. This renowned queen reigned as the British monarch for an impressive 63 years, and Canadians celebrate her birthday every year.
History of Victoria Day
For over 150 years, since 1845, Queen Victoria’s birthday has been celebrated as a national holiday in Canada. Victoria reigned as the British sovereign from 1837 to 1901, which was the same time when the Dominion of Canada became its own nation in 1867.
After Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, the Canadian Parliament established Victoria Day as a legal holiday throughout the country.
Although Queen Victoria’s actual birthday was on May 24, 1819, the Canadian government decided in 1952 to celebrate the holiday on a Monday, whichever one falls before May 25. This allows Canadians to attach their holiday to the weekend to take full advantage of the opportunity to travel or visit with family.
The sovereign leaders who followed Queen Victoria had different traditions for celebrating this day. The birthday of Victoria’s son, Edward VII, was also celebrated on Victoria Day, but the next three kings (George V, Edward VIII, and George VI) were not.
When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1952, her first birthday as queen and every subsequent one until her death in 2022, was celebrated on Victoria Day. This nod to her great-great grandmother became the tradition, even though Elizabeth’s actual birthday was on April 21.
Victoria Day offers Canadians and others around the world the opportunity to show respect for and honor the British monarch who wears the crown!
How to Celebrate Victoria Day
There are many ways to celebrate Victoria Day, this important Canadian national holiday, including:
- Attend a Victoria Day Event
Communities hold Victoria Day celebrations throughout Canada, which might include parades, family festivities, fireworks, and more. Many times, Victoria Day festivities will be broadcast on television so that people at home can still enjoy watching the festivities.
- Celebrate at Home
Families who want to celebrate Victoria Day at home might choose to host an event with friends and neighbors in attendance. Decorate with Canadian and British flags to show respect for the two countries. Host a barbecue with food and perhaps a campfire for roasting marshmallows. Light some sparklers in the evening as the sun begins to go down.
- Watch a Film or Show About Queen Victoria
In celebration of Victoria Day, check out one of these movies or shows that are based on the life and reign of the queen:
- Victoria the Great (1937) – This biographical film focuses on Victoria’s early reign and marriage to Prince Albert.
- The Young Victoria (2009) – Starring Emily Blunt, this film also features Victoria and Albert’s early years.
- Victoria & Abdul (2017) – Dame Judi Dench tells of a real-life relationship between Victoria and her Indian Muslim servant in her later years.
Here’s to Queen Victoria, a remarkable woman who continues to inspire Canadians even today.