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FRESH OFF THE PLANE: Sharing a birthday with queen gets a little confusing for newcomer

We came to Canada in the fall of 1999 and after a very long, very cold winter, welcomed spring with great excitement. The snow melted and beautiful tulips bloomed in gardens.
I was also very happy to discover that I shared my birthday with Queen Victoria when I learned that Monday, May 22, 2000, was a public holiday.

However, the next year, in 2001, I was a little confused when Victoria Day was marked on May 21.

I considered asking someone, but then it slipped my mind. Also, on second thought, I told myself it was possible that I was confused about the date last year – after all, it was our first Spring and first Victoria Day in Canada and with so many new things to learn and absorb, perhaps I’d got the dates mixed up.

I gave it no more thought until the following year. Victoria Day was celebrated on May 20 in 2002!

Now I knew that something was up for sure.

I couldn’t be mistaken about my birthday and Victoria Day two years in a row!

So during our coffee break at work, I asked a colleague for an explanation.

“Victoria Day? Oh, it keeps moving around!” he said.

Which made no sense to me. How could Queen Victoria’s birthday keep changing? In India, we celebrate Mahatma Gandhi birthday on October 2 and Jawaharlal Nehru’s on November 14. Every year. The dates don’t change from year to year.

“You know what, now that you say so, I guess it does seem strange. And come to think of it, I don’t even actually know her real birthday. But I do know we mark it on the third Monday of May – it gives us a long weekend!”

So we decided to look it up. Queen Victoria was born on May 24, 1819, and Canadians celebrate it on the Monday before May 25, so everyone can enjoy a long weekend.

And this year, as we celebrate Victoria Day on May 18, I remember what a newcomer and an old-timer both learned many years ago.

– Pramod Joshi


What’s your story? Every newcomer, no matter how savvy or where he or she comes from, has a Fresh Off the Plane (FOP) story to share about their early days in Canada. Do you want to share your story? E-mail it to us at canadaboundimmigrant@rogers.com.

Posted: Apr 28, 2015

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