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Victoria Day is a Canadian holiday, originally in honor of the birthday of Queen Victoria, under whose reign Canada became an independent nation. It began as the actual birthday of Queen Victoria, 24 May, which was commemorated in Canada (then British North America) as early as 1834. On Victoria's death in 1901, 24 May became Empire Day, and in 1952 Empire Day was moved to the first Monday before 25 May. This date was finally reserved to Victoria Day in 1977, when the almost-forgotten Empire Day was moved to March. It is presently celebrated as Victoria Day in all provinces except Quebec. According to legislation passed in 2003, the same day is kept as a holiday in Quebec, but under the name of National Patriots' Day.
Formal celebrations of Victoria Day include parades and fireworks displays in various places. Informally, the date is taken as a convenient marker of the beginning of summer, or the beginning of the safe planting season for gardeners. Some nicknames for the holiday include May Long (for the long weekend) and May 2-4, evoking the slang term for a double dozen case of beer.
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