Victoria Day is a Canadian statutory holiday celebrated on the last Monday before or on May 24 in honour of both Queen Victoria’s birthday and the current reigning Canadian sovereign’s birthday.
While Victoria Day is often thought of as a purely Canadian event, it is also celebrated in some parts of Scotland, particularly in Edinburgh and Dundee, as well as in the Cayman Islands, where it is also a public holiday.
The birthday of the monarch was a day for celebration in Canada long before confederation. On May 24, 1854, 5,000 residents of Upper Canada gathered in front of Government House (near present day King and Simcoe Streets, in Toronto) to “give cheers to their queen.”
Since 1901, the date of May 24 was known throughout the British Empire as Empire Day. An amendment to the Statutes of Canada in 1952 moved the holiday to the Monday before May 25.
In some parts of Canada, the holiday is colloquially known as May Two-Four. This phrase has two meanings: the holiday always falls near the date of May 24, and a two-four is Canadian slang for a case of 24 bottles of beer, a common packaging of the drink in Canada (and a common purchase of those planning to celebrate the weekend).