Yet another Canadian holiday is approaching. Victoria Day. To my American friends, this means absolutely nothing. To me, it means marginally more. As in, I know it’s a Canadian holiday, and Husband isn’t working on Monday.
So, in an effort to educate myself and those stateside, I “googled” Queen Victoria’s name and the holiday. I can now provide you with 23 facts* that the Internet says you should know about Queen Victoria and the celebration of Victoria Day.
- Victoria was born on May 24, 1819.
- Victoria Day is celebrated on the last Monday before or on May 25.
- Victoria was named Alexandrina, after Emperor Alexander I of Russia, and Victoria after her mother.
- She was her father’s only legitimate child. He died eight months after she was born.
- Victoria Day celebrates both Queen Victoria’s birthday and the current reigning Canadian sovereign’s official birthday.
- Victoria’s childhood sucked. She grew up under “the Kensington System,” which was designed by her mom and her mom’s supposed lover. Victoria was isolated and strictly monitored with her every action recorded. She was never allowed to be apart from her mother, tutor or governess. It’s no wonder she evicted her mother from the palace after marrying.
- Victoria Day (informally) marks the beginning of summer. Which is ironic because summer is still a month away.
- Victoria became queen on June 20, 1837, at age 18, following the death of her uncle, King William IV.
- Victoria Day was first observed in Ontario in 1845.
- Victoria’s reign as queen lasted 63 years and 7 months, which is a REALLY long time, and longer than that of any British monarch before or since.
- Victoria Day has also been known as the Queen’s Birthday, Empire Day and Commonwealth Day.
- Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. No doubt they would’ve lived happily ever after in Kentucky.
- Victoria did the proposing. Props to her! She and her husband wed on February 10, 1840.
- Victoria Day is not strictly Canadian and is also celebrated in some parts of Scotland.
- Victoria and Albert had 9 children and, gulp, 42 grandchildren.
- Victoria’s name lends itself to the “the Victorian era” and refers to the period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific and military progress within the United Kingdom.
- Victoria evaded, like, seven assassination attempts.
- Curiously, Victoria is also credited with the phrase “Victorian morality.” Her mom was annoyed by all infidelity and out-of-wedlock scandals related to her brothers-in-law and taught her daughter that she must avoid any hint of sexual impropriety. Good for Victoria for marrying before producing 9 children. It would appear that her mother never considered her own actions when instructing her daughter.
- Following her husband’s death in 1861, Victoria lived in a perpetual state of mourning, wearing only black.
- Victoria died in January 1901 from a cerebral haemorrhage (spelled correctly). She was 81. That means she wore black for 40 years.
- Victoria was a haemophiliac (which definitely doesn’t look right but is). Suggestions have been made that her true father was someone else. She is the first known carrier of haemophilia in the royal line which suggests a spontaneous mutation of the disease or illegitimacy. Sheesh. Tough crowd, those critics!
- Victoria was known as “the grandmother of Europe” because of her hand in arranging her children’s and grandchildren’s marriages. Curiously, three of the main monarchs with countries involved in World War I were either grandchildren of Victoria’s or married to a grandchild of hers. Eight of Victoria’s nine children married members of European royal families, while the other married a future Governor-General of Canada.
- Canadians like Victoria Day because it’s another holiday, and who doesn’t like holidays?
There you have it. A quick tutorial on all-things Queen Victoria and Victoria Day. Of course, I left out most of the details related to the actual monarchy. Who wants to know about such dull things? You may want to pull out a history book or a biography to find out more about that. Or maybe do some more “googling” of your own. In any case, I now feel more equipped to fully enjoy Monday’s festivities, whatever they may be.
Happy birthday, Vicky! And Queen Elizabeth! And, Happy Victoria Day to all! All you Canadians (and some Scots), that is.
*May or may not be true depending upon how much faith you have in a Google search to produce reliable sources.