So it's time again for one of my annual diatribes. As I flipped through the Guelph Tribune this morning, waiting for my bagel to toast (true story), today's streeter - the part of the paper where they ask the opinion of people on the street their thoughts on a pending issue or event - asked: "What are you doing this May 2-4?"
Really? Well, actually it isn't the question that bothers me, it's the reference to Victoria Day as May 2-4, an expression that seems at once both uneducated and disrespectful. Yes friends, I'm talking about the the boorish disregard for Queen Victoria and the role she played in helping Canada establish its independence, and replacing it with a numerical code with the dual meaning of the rough date of Victoria Day and drinking a lot of beer.
And no, this is not a joke.
It truly, genuinely bothers me. British traditions in our culture mean a lot to me because my family came to Ontario in the 1780s with other United Empire Loyalists; they wanted no piece of the new experiment called the United States of America and abandoned their homes and most of their possessions in Pennsylvania to stay British subjects. A few decades later, their descendents fought in the War of 1812 and repelled the potential American invasion. Now, I'm not so egocentric to say they built this province, and this country, but they were certainly pioneers that helped settle this land, and the reason there-in is because they believed in the traditions and customs of the country they hailed from: Great Britain.
Now I realize that "May 2-4" is a short hand and that Victory Day long weekend is a bit of a mouthful, but I think we've sacrificed enough of our British holiday culture. Boxing Day means little more now than cheap electronics and store returns. It's meaningless otherwise to the great majority. Now granted the original meaning was when rich people gave gifts and bonuses and leftovers and hand-me-downs to their servants, but its heart was in the right place. And let's ask the Occupy movement if having a holiday where rich people are encouraged to be charitable is a good idea.
So to counter the compounding ignorance and laziness, I have a modest proposal: I want to start calling Christmas "Dec (pronounced 'Deck') 25. Of course "Dec 25" is becoming more secular, but its original definition still means something to a lot of people. I do this not to be blasphemous, although that maybe implied, I do this to demonstrate in part how dumbed down and stupid we've become and we're not even aware of it.
Whenever I take offense to people referring to Victoria Day as "May2-4" and explaining to them why, I'm almost near universally greeted with the type of blank expression you get when you're explaining the rules of Dungeons & Dragons to a non D&D player, or better still like I'm speaking some rarely heard foreign language. Why should I take offense to this? Queen Victoria died, like, 100 years ago... So why should you get offended about Dec 25? Jesus died, like. 2,000 years ago, right?
And think about how much time you'll save saying "Dec 25" rather than Christmas Day, or Christmas Time, or just plain Christmas? And if you are the religious sort that maybe feels guilty about how little you get to the church, then calling the holiday "Dec 25" isn't going to give you any additional stress. You can focus on what Christmas is really about: presents and eating! Am I wrong?
If that sounds ridiculous to you, now you know what "May 2-4" means to me. The proper naming of things matter, if only because it makes it easier to remember its significance. I know there's a debate out there about the close connection between Canada and the British monarchy, and that's fine, but to discount that relationship's affect on our past is selling our own history short.
Happy Victoria Day long weekend.