Hey there, welcome back to Plaidspin, the Blog That Never Updates™. This is part 3 in our “It’s a Canadian Holiday!” series. Previously in this series:
What’s Victoria Day?: It’s a long weekend in May where you get drunk outdoors.
No, seriously though, what’s it about?: On the one hand, yes, it’s a day in honour of Queen Victoria. Victoria was Britain’s longest-serving monarch, and she was nice enough to let Canada become a pretty-much-almost-sovereign country in 1867.
Canada, as the momma’s boy of the Commonwealth, absolutely adored Queen Vicky. That’s why every two-bit town across the country has a Queen Street and a Victoria Street, and why we have an entire city in BC full of rosy-cheeked aging monarchists that we named “Victoria”.
On the other hand, no, Victoria Day isn’t about Queen Victoria at all. It’s not like any pundits are getting upset over the fact that we’re not remembering the true reason for the season and keeping the Victoria in Victoria Day. We’ve acknowledged that Queen Victoria has long since outlived her shelf life as a useful Canadian figurehead. Even though she was nice enough to let us peons in her vermin-infested, frostbitten colonies finally become semi-liberated, she also had a bunch of kids with her first cousin, so let’s not go overboard on the hero worship.
What do you do on Victoria Day? You go to the cottage and get drunk, bud!
Victoria Day is celebrated each year on the Monday that comes before May 24th, leading to the holiday being colloquially referred to as “May Two-Four Long Weekend”. In case you need to brush up on your Canadian, a “two-four” is a 24-pack of beer.
In Canadian social circles, “the guy with a cottage” is very near the top of the social food chain. Early on when you’re assembling your group of friends in high school, you need to make sure that one of them is a rich kids whose parents have a cottage. You’ll put up with all manner of shit from this kid, as long as it means you can go up to his cottage on May Two-Four and get drunk out on the dock.
After another classically shitty winter, Canadians start to get cabin fever (literally, a fever where they strongly want to go live in a cabin for a weekend) around May, and have a restless urge to “get back to nature” by hanging out at their buddy’s cottage. Usually this means waiting in traffic all day on Friday to get away from the suburbs and into “nature”, a term which covers the 99.999%-odd percent of our nation’s land-mass that isn’t within the city limits of a city large enough to sustain an NHL franchise. Then, you just mooch off your buddy’s cottage all weekend, eating his food and riding his Sea-Doo. Oh, it’s ok, you’re not mooching, you tell yourself - you bought the guy some hot-crossed buns from the farmer’s market and some cheap Okanagan wine, so it all works itself out.
Then, in order to fully celebrate our ties to Her Majesty Queen Victoria and our nation’s enduring devotion to the Crown, you get drunk outdoors all day, and then sit around a campfire as some asshole you knew from high school tries to remember the chords to a Tragically Hip song on his acoustic guitar. You suck back another warm beer and then decide it would be hilarious to jump into the lake, but it’s fucking freezing, because it’s Canada, and it’s only mid-May still.
It’s truly a special holiday.
This has been a Plaidspin Canadian Statutory Holiday Reminder. We’ll see you in July for Canada Day!