After this year’s punishing winter everybody is anxious for the arrival of the warmer months. This weekend – which I shall conveniently call May 1st Weekend – delivered the befitting panacea. Not only were we blessed with wall-to-wall sunshine and blue skies; temperatures were also unusually high, approaching 24ºC. We needn’t suffer the further indignity of waiting until Victoria Day Weekend to celebrate. It appears we have finally exhausted the chilly winter winds; and the 14-day forecast is equally favourable.
Victoria Day in 2015
In 2015 the Victoria Day holiday is on Monday, May 18.
Victoria Day is a Canadian statutory holiday celebrated on the Monday preceding May 25 in every province and territory. It honours Queen Victoria’s birthday. In Quebec this holiday is called “National Patriotes Day” (Journée nationale des patriotes).
Victoria Day is also commonly referred to as the “May two-four weekend” or the “May long weekend” and it marks the unofficial start of the cottage season where cases of beer are consumed by hard working Canadians. Or maybe it’s called May two-four because May 24, 1819 is Queen Victoria’s birthday.
Prince Edward (1767–1820) after whom Prince Edward Island was named was Queen Victoria’s father.
I am taking my liberties describing this weekend as the May 1st Weekend, first because May 1st was on Friday; second because May Day is the usual label for this particular celebration.
Traditional May Day origins and celebrations
The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the Floralia, festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, held April 27 during the Roman Republic era, and with the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane, most commonly held on April 30. The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of Spring, May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer.
Aside from the traditional fertility theme of May 1st promoted in particular by the agrarian British, it has symbolized different motifs:
May Day on May 1 is an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. Dances, singing, and cake are usually part of the celebrations that the day includes.
In the late 19th century, May Day was chosen as the date for International Workers’ Day by the Socialists and Communists of the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago.
As the turn-around is so discernible it seems appropriate to memorialize this splendid weekend whatever it may be called. It isn’t however simply the weather that motivates me. I am on the threshold of discovery, a personal awakening of sorts. I feel peculiar at my age rejoicing in something as trendy as a higher dimension of consciousness. But this isn’t a self-realization ceremony. It’s just an altered state without the additives. Essentially I’m having a bloody good time for no particular reason! Tuning into the inconsequential features of life with gusto is not entirely remarkable but it seldom qualifies for lengthy narrative. Yet it is precisely this element which defines the singularity of the experience. I would for example be hard pressed to point to any event for which the weekend was notable but I can easily say that all of it has been pleasant. There were sporadic occasions which tripped me up; but I was able to digest the gristle. Certainly some resolve was necessary but the hiccups are nothing more than a reminder that life has its bumps however charming the road.
I apologize for the appearance of gloating but this May 1st Weekend signals for me more than an improving climate or the advent of a Season. It cues what I like to call a “fresh step” (a term I inherited from my former commercial vernacular and which served me well as a milestone and for profit taking). I am applying similar actions to my introversion (though it coincidentally reflects the external agenda peculiar to this time of year). Inward contemplation is not traditionally what attracts me, but I have discovered that diverting my attention from outer things has afforded me unusual solace. I won’t pretend that this monastic bearing will continue for any length of time; however for the time being it is rewarding and uncommonly pacifying.