After a winter of ice, snow, and poor driving conditions, Canadians really look forward to the first long weekend of the year. Victoria Day is the official kick off of the warm weather season in Canada, and for most people it means planting a vegetable garden, filling up the swimming pool, and kicking back in the yard with friends and family.
But despite the fact that Canadians look forward to Victoria Day every year, not a lot of people know exactly what it’s celebrated with an extra day off work and school. Named after the British monarch Queen Victoria, it’s an official celebration of the royal nod she gave Confederation, and it’s celebrated on May 24th or the Monday before because that was her birthday. Queen Victoria ruled for a period of 62 years, and the Parliament of Canada declared her birthday a holiday way back in 1845.
If you’re hanging out in a big city on Victoria Day, you might witness everything from a 21-gun salute to the flying of the Royal Union flag next to the Canadian flag. In Victoria, British Columbia, the city named for the Queen, you can watch a parade and enjoy a dazzling firework display. Other major cities host fireworks on Victoria Day as well.
Despite the fact that it’s the first official long weekend of summer and all people want to do is relax and have fun, the one thing Canadians need to be aware of is the dangers of drinking and driving. It’s OK to stop at a corner pub or patio and have a few drinks, but it’s not OK to get behind the wheel of a car after. Stay safe this Victoria Day by saying no to drinking and driving, and plan on enjoying the rest of the summer safely by asking a sober driver or calling a cab to get you home.