Fireworks over Lake Ontario in Toronto on Victoria Day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Should you be the type of traveler who tries to avoid long weekends when visiting a foreign country, consider this post a travel advisory. Canadian statutory holidays that result in clogged roads and public closures are:
- New Year’s Day
- Good Friday – the date changes every year, but will fall some time between the end of March and the middle of April.
- Victoria Day, or as it is known in Quebec, National Patriot’s Day – the first Monday closest to May 24th.
- July 1st is Canada Day.
- Thanksgiving Day – the second Monday in October.
- Christmas Day – December 25th
- Boxing Day – December 26th
The most idiosyncratic of these seven Canadian holidays has to be Victoria Day, or as we called it in my childhood – Firecracker Day. Adults irreverently refer to it as May Two-Four, a pun that only a Canadian beer drinker appreciates. For the first 34 years of nationhood, Victoria was the Queen of Canada. She had been on the throne for 30 years, when Canada gained her independence. Marking her birthday was an ingrained tradition that did not die with her in 1901.
In Ontario, the May long weekend is the signal to gardeners to whip the flower and vegetable beds into shape. Cottagers are bumper to bumper on highways by late Friday afternoon. Victoria Day is the unofficial first day of summer in Canada.
Queen Victoria was born May 24, 1819. Hence the date of the holiday and the root of the pun in the title of this post. Hint: In Ontario, beer is sold in cases of 24.
Canadian Thanksgiving has nothing to do with Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock. Our Thanksgiving is a legacy of the Family Compact and British colonial rule. About 200 years ago, some politically well-connected leaders tried to establish the Anglican Church as the state church. One Anglican tradition was a harvest thanksgiving service. That religious celebration is the root of Canadian Thanksgiving. The state church failed to materialize, but the tradition of a day of Thanksgiving in October continues to this day.
We celebrate with turkey, trimmings and football, just like the Americans. We don’t have Black Friday, and a kick-off to Christmas. We do try to gather family to share the meal. I’ve delivered the meal on Sunday as often as I have on Thanksgiving Monday. This year we are being really traditional – dinner at noon with a turkey and trimmings today, Monday. No football though. I’m taking Nephew #1 to see Real Steel.
This hasn’t been my best year, yet if I dig I can find a lot for which I should be thankful. That’s what I’m going to concentrate on today – the things for which I am truly thankful.
The turkey is ordered. I collect it from Longo’s on Friday. If you haven’t tried one of Longo’s “special” fresh turkeys, you haven’t lived! Wonderfully packaged including instructions for roasting and stuffing. And delicious, absolutely out of this world. I tried my first one at Thanksgiving. Couldn’t resist for this year’s holiday meal.
The only jobs left to do before the holiday begins – polishing the silver and cleaning – well – everything. I don’t mind the silver polishing. Cleaning, however, is the bane of my existence. Yes Santa, I really would like a maid for Christmas.
The “what-is-it” stocking stuffers have arrived. My sister’s contribution came with an envelope – sealed and labeled – do not open until you’ve really tried hard to identify the “what-is-it” stocking stuffer. Competitive? My sister? Duh, yes. Admittedly I sent 2 this year…
I’m trying to remember how many years ago I landed in Shanghai on Christmas Eve? I had fled Canada to escape the holidays. China seemed as good a place as any. Surprise, Surprise! The arrival hall of Shanghai airport was decked with Santas and Tinsel.
I spent New Year‘s Eve as a guest of the state – no not in jail – but a huge dinner put on by a tourism department. Our arrival we were greeted by young girls waving flags and a band! A much better band than the cover band I saw in Atlantic City, that New Year’s Eve I flew to the gambling capital just for the evening. Wouldn’t do it again.
I’m repeating last New Year’s Eve. And I’m looking forward to it, ’cause Jackie Richardson will be singing her heart and the old year out.
This past weekend I celebrated my 23rd anniversary as a travel professional. I changed careers, because I realized that I spent more time figuring out how to be somewhere else than any other activity. So I left broadcasting for travel – educational travel.
For 15 years I assisted teachers to plan class trips or choir and band trips. I sent them all around the world, and from time to time I had the privilege of traveling with them. I witnessed the power of travel as a educational tool, and as a means of building self-confidence and life skills.
For 5 years I’ve been volunteering for the MLH Youth Fund. The registered charity provides travel scholarships for youngsters who cannot afford to participate in their school trip. These are the children who need to travel the most. Many of them have never been farther than their local mall. Some are learners who benefit from experiential learning. The MLH Youth Fund broadens horizons.
I am fully aware that at this time of year every charitable organization is asking for your support. So I encourage you, if you can’t support the MLH Youth Fund, support the charity of your choice. Giving rather than getting will make you feel good and help someone less fortunate than you.