Growing up, today was always the first official sign that summer was coming. As a student, I would count the number of days until done. Later, as a teacher, I would count the days and look at what remained to be taught and wondered how I was going to make it happen.
As a child, it was known as Victoria Day. Somewhere along the line, it became the 24th of May Holiday. When I reached drinking age, it became May 2-4. Bizarrely, the holiday was seldom actually held on the 24th. My understanding was confirmed in the Wikipedia article that the holiday was actually the last Monday before May 25.
So, it was a day that would always extend the weekend and wasn’t devoted to a particular date. In keeping with the notion of summer, we always took advantage watching fireworks, going camping, heading to the beach, and other things that are definitely out this year.
It wasn’t until I moved to Essex County that I realized that Canada and the Commonwealth didn’t have exclusive rights to a holiday at this time of the year. Bombarded with the media from Detroit, we know it as a weekend to do a lot of shopping surrounding a day known as Memorial Day. It’s held on the last Monday of May; this year on the 31st.
A couple of days ago, I had the good fortune to be in a chat with Vicky Loras who wished me a happy long weekend. Knowing that she lived in Switzerland now, and being totally naive, I asked her if the day was celebrated there. As I was typing, I thought that it was kind of a dumb question since Switzerland has never been part of the Commonwealth and I could have just done a Duck search and saved myself the embarrassment.
She was quick to let me know that it was this year, indeed, a holiday in her world. It’s Holy Spirit Day. The day is known by a couple of other names – Whit Monday, Pentecost Monday. It’s not just Switzerland – I had to do some followup research so that I knew all the details. It’s a day celebrated for a different reason.
So, unlike December 25 which is universally a holiday at the same time, the spring holidays are around the same time, but determined differently, and celebrated for different reasons.
Fascinating, and as a result of a friend connection and a conversation, I’m a little bit smarter.
Better yet, I know how to greet her next year.