Come and enjoy a Victorian Christmas in the city named after Queen Victoria!
Christmas is a special time in Victoria. Thanks to our mild, almost mediterranean climate and British heritage, Victorians celebrate Christmas in many ways, both traditional and modern... A few of the special events that take place over the Christmas season include:
- Christmas at Christmas, with the Victoria Symphony
- Handel's Messiah
- A Cape Breton Celebration with Natalie MacMaster
- Oak Bay Sea of Lights Festival
- Festival of Trees
- Spawning Salmon Run
- The Eagles Have Landed at Goldstream Park
The Victoria Harbour Ferry Company offers 45 minute harbour tours in ferries decorated for Christmas. All proceeds from these tours benefits the Times Colonist Christmas Fund. Adults $16.00, Seniors $14.00, Children 12 and under $8.00. Inner Harbour, 11am-4pm (read more..)
Boxing Day - December 26th
Boxing Day officially began in England in the mid-1850s, under the rule of Queen Victoria. December 26th, or Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and other Commonwealth countries, and the United States. It is spent with family and friends at open gatherings with lots of food, fun, friendship and love. Boxing Day is so called because it was the custom on that day for tradesmen to collect their Christmas boxes or gifts in return for good and reliable service throughout the year. Boxing Day is also St. Stephen's Day. St Stephen was a little known saint who achieved eternal fame by being the first Christian to be martyred for his faith by being stoned to death shortly after Christ's crucifixion.
For an entertaining explanation of the history of Boxing Day, go here:
New Year's Day
New Year's Day is more associated with broken resolutions and hangovers for some people, but the true history of celebrating a new year goes back almost to the beginning of recorded history.
It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon (actually the first visible crescent) after the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring).
The beginning of spring is a logical time to start a new year. After all, it is the season of rebirth, of planting new crops, and of blossoming. January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary.
The Babylonian new year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its own particular mode of celebration, but it is safe to say that modern New Year's Eve festivities pale in comparison.
The Romans continued to observe the new year in late March, but their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the calendar soon became out of synchronization with the sun.
In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared January 1 to be the beginning of the new year. But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar. It again established January 1 as the new year. But in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days. (more ...)
Easter is a time of springtime festivals. In Christian countries Easter is celebrated as the religious holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God. But the celebrations of Easter have many customs and legends that are pagan in origin and have nothing to do with Christianity.
For a listing of Churches in Victoria, click here.
Scholars, accepting the derivation proposed by the 8th-century English scholar St. Bede, believe the name Easter is thought to come from the Scandinavian "Ostra" and the Teutonic "Ostern " or "Eastre," both Goddesses of mythology signifying spring and fertility whose festival was celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox. (more...)
The first Monday in August is a holiday in most of the Provinces and Territories, and British Columbia is no exception, with BC Day, established in the mid-1970s by the socialist government of Dave Barrett and the NDP. Its name changes from province to province, and even amongst different regions within a province, but no matter what it is called, it is a much needed long weekend to augment the short Canadian summers.
In Victoria, BC day is marked by a number of celebrations, but probably the best known is the "Symphony Splash", a special performance by the Victoria Symphony Orchestra held on the water (on a huge barge) of the city's Inner Harbour. Every year, tens of thousands of Victorians and tourists fill the inner harbour causeway and the neighbouring grounds of the Parliament Buildings and the Empress Hotel to listen to a fabulous performance of modern and classical music, including the famous William Tell overture, complete with cannons, bells and fireworks!
Canada Day is in some ways similar to America's Independence Day, except that it falls on July 1st instead of July 4th. Also, we never felt the need to gain independence from Britain, and are still a member of the British Commonwealth with a Governor General representing the Queen in our Capital, Ottawa. Still, it is a day that we celebrate the birthday of our nation.
And what better place to celebrate our birthday but in Victoria, which was established in 1862, five years before Canada was actually created under the British North America Act.
Canada Day is a big celebration in Victoria, with special events, historical tours, street entertainment, face painting for kids, and dozens of other activities, capped off with a major fireworks display over the Inner Harbour in the heart of downtown Victoria (click on video below to view).
The first Monday on or before May 24th is Victoria Day. While this is a national holiday first created to observe the reigning Monarch at the time, Queen Victoria, it is particularly special in Victoria, which was named after the Queen when the city was first established in 1862.
The biggest event in Victoria on Victoria Day is without doubt the Island Farms Victoria Day Parade, which runs for two miles from the Mayfair Shopping Centre to Downtown Victoria along Douglas Street. This annual event draws more than
150 entries – including a large contingent of high school marching bands, floats, clowns, and so on. Over 120,000 spectators line the street to watch this popular annual event in person and on television. Fun for the whole family.
For more Information: Phone Greater Victoria Festival Society at (250) 382-3111
Remembrance Day - November 11
Remembrance Day, as it is called in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, is the same as Veterans' Day in the United States, and Armistice Day in France and New Zealand,
In Victoria, this day is celebrated by a military parade down Government St. to the grounds of the Legislature where a service of remembrance and wreath laying takes place at the Cenotaph followed by a march past in front of the Empress Hotel.
While banks, schools and many businesses are closed, most attractions, shops and restaurants are open for business.
Each November, Poppies blossom on the lapels and collars of over half of Canada’s entire population. Since 1921, the Poppy has stood as a symbol of Remembrance, our visual pledge to never forget all those Canadians who have fallen in war and military operations. The Poppy also stands internationally as a “symbol of collective reminiscence”, as other countries have also adopted its image to honour those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
This significance of the Poppy can be traced to international origins.
The association of the Poppy to those who had been killed in war has existed since the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century, over 110 years before being adopted in Canada. There exists a record from that time of how thickly Poppies grew over the graves of soldiers in the area of Flanders, France.
This early connection between the Poppy and battlefield deaths described how fields that were barren before the battles exploded with the blood-red flowers after the fighting ended. (more...)
Labour Day has been celebrated on the first Monday in September in Canada since the 1880s... (more...)
There's lots going on in Victoria on and around the Labour Day weekend.
Blues Bash: Celebrate the end of summer by rockin’ and groovin’ to live R&B, blues and more at the 14th Annual Vancouver Island Blues Bash, held over the Labour Day weekend at the outdoor stage at Ship Point off the 900 Block of Wharf St. in Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival (10 days, ending Labour Day)
A non-stop, twelve-day explosion of comedy, improv, drama, performance art and dance from around the world. All venues downtown, all tickets $9 or less!
Contact for more Information: Phone Intrepid Theatre at (250) 383-2663 or click here
Location(s): Various downtown locations along Pandora Avenue, St. Andrews and St. Michael Schools, Wood Hall.
For other events in Victoria in August, go here.
NOTE: Thanksgiving in Canada: Second Monday in October Thanksgiving in USA: November 22
A holiday stuffed with history
After stuffing the bird, making the cranberry sauce, fixing the dressing and baking the pumpkin pie, you already know it takes more than a little planning to prepare a holiday feast, but in the case of Thanksgiving, the planning has been hundreds of years in the making.
And it’s no coincidence that the same holiday should fall on two different days in Canada and the United States, says Dorothy Duncan, Executive Director of the Ontario Historical Society. Because of the seasonal differences between the two countries, our harvest happens earlier in the year, as does our Canadian Thanksgiving. (more...)
Although sometimes referred to as happening nine months after Fathers' Day (thank God men don't have to have babies -- they couldn't handle it! :o) Canada and the United States celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May. It is a day when we pay tribute to the women who gave us life. We buy our mothers gifts of candy, cards and flowers to show her how much she means to us. (more...)
Give your mother a Birds of a Feather B&B Gift Certificate for a pampered stay at this ocean-front bed and breakfast. We will be happy to arrange flowers and a masseuse to be on-site as part of a 2 day weekend package for that extra special touch.