May 17, 2015
“The twenty-fourth of May
is the Queen’s birthday —
If you don’t give us a holiday
we’ll all run away!”
My dad (who was born in 1913, and attended a 2-room school in rural Saskatchewan) chanted a version of that poem along with his schoolmates, and, as it turns out, with many other school children across the country. The 24th of May, Queen Victoria’s birthday, has been celebrated in Canada for well over a century.
Edited to add: Here’s a post by my friend Catherine M. Johnson that will tell (and show) you more about Queen Victoria.
Victoria Day is now commemorated with a statutory holiday on the closest Monday before May 24th, so today is a holiday here in Canada. There will be a 21-gun salute fired at the Legislative Building at noon, and there will be fireworks tonight.
For many people, this long weekend is the time to start planting the garden, to have a barbeque, or to open up the cottage at the lake. Others simply enjoy a day off work.
With the kind of work I do — writing and copy editing — I don’t adhere to a regular schedule, so statutory holidays generally seem like any other day. Still, I thought I’d celebrate Victoria Day here on the blog (and perhaps even in real life).
I found a couple of books geared for kids about Victoria Day that are worth a look:
The first is a non-fiction book, part of the Celebrations in My World series published by Crabtree, Victoria Day by Lynn Peppas. The text is very simple, but it gives a good explanation of historic and current Victoria Day celebrations.
The second is fiction, part of the series The Royal Diaries from Scholastic. These books are written to seem as if they are the actual diary of the royal person who is writing them, and I had to keep reminding myself as I read that the book was fiction.
Victoria: May Blossom of Britannia by Anna Kirwan is written as the young Princess’s account of her daily life in 1829, when she was just turning 10 years old. It shows well what the young Victoria’s life was like, and children (girls, especially) will find it fascinating.
(Speaking of princesses, I just want to give a heads-up for you to come back to my blog on Friday for a post by Julie Gribble, as she continues her series about the making of her picture book, The Bubblegum Princess.)
And now, it’s time to fire up the barbeque, and wait for the fireworks to begin!