Friday, May 18, 2007
Happy Queen's day
This is the beginning of a holiday weekend in Canada. For those who do not live here, let me explain. It is not a celebration of happy gay men as my title may lead you to think. No, it is in honour of our head of state's birthday. Queen Lizzie. It falls on the weekend closest to May 24. Although that is not Lizzie's birthday at all, it is old Queen Victoria's. Liz may be queen and all, but she doesn't get her own day.
We treat this weekend as the unofficial beginning of summer. Cottages are opened up and aired of their winter mustiness, gardens are planted, boats are washed and waxed, decks are power washed, the first camping trips of the season are taken, and much beer is drunk. But unless they happen to attend the movie starring Helen Murrin this weekend, no one will actually think of the Queen at all. In fact, most of us call this "the May 24 long weekend," not Victoria Day. I read that in a recent poll, less than 10 % of young Canadians even know the Queen is our head of state. There are no parades, speeches, or even square dances this weekend honouring the monarch. Well, except maybe for the butterfly. But not for Liz. In Eastern Canada, there will be a few fireworks marking the day, but here in the west we save our fireworks for a really important occasion, Halloween.
It is not clear to me, and to many Canadians, why we cling to the monarchy, and the Commonwealth. There are no benefits, and the Queen wields no actual power over us. Perhaps it is just inertia and reluctance to challenge tradition. Or unwillingness to give up a long weekend dedicated mostly to quaffing large amounts of Molson Canadian Lager.
I'll drink to that.
Today's dream travel destination: Buckingham Palace, where Vicky's birthday is likely not celebrated by guzzling lager in the sun.