Calendar

Feb
26
Tue
Pistachio Day
Feb 26 all-day

Archeologists believe that pistachios were used as food as early as 6000 BCE. Celebrate this ancient and healthy nut on February 26, Pistachio Day.pistachio-day-fun-heritage

Also known as National Pistachio Day or World Pistachio Day, this unofficial holiday encourages people to add pistachios to their daily diets and take advantage of their health benefits.

Happy Nut

Called the happy nut in China and the smiling nut in Iran, pistachios are native to the Middle East and Central Asia.

Food historians believe that the pistachio tree reached Greece along with Alexander the Great’s army. Traders introduced the nut to the rest of the European continent, where it was initially used as an expensive addition to food and baked goods.

Dyed Red to Hide Flaws

In the United States, the nut was introduced by Middle Eastern immigrants during the late 19th century. Even though, the country now produces most of the world’s pistachio crops, along with Iran, Turkey and Syria, the nut wasn’t grown commercially there until the mid 20th century.

In the initial days of their commercial productions, pistachio shells were dyed red or green by the growers. This was to hide the marks and dents made on the shell during harvesting. Today, with mechanical harvesting procedures, there is no reason to dye the shells anymore.

Full of Nutrients

Pistachios are a rich source of proteins, fiber and vitamin B. Research indicates that adding the nut to one’s daily diet may reduce the risk of heart disease.

The nut is used in many cuisines around the world. In the Middle East, it is one of the main ingredients in many types of sweets including baklava and halva. In Italy, it is used to make spumoni and pistachio gelato – the Italian versions of icecream.

How to Celebrate?

  • Add pistachios to every meal of the day. Start with adding it to your breakfast cereal, substitute peanut butter with pistachio butter for your lunch sandwich, have a pistachio crusted pork chop for dinner and finish the day off with a scoop or two of pistachio ice cream or pistachio cake.

Did You Know…

…that the Jylgyndy Forest Reserve in Kyrgyzstan was created to conserve the pistachio plant?

Feb
27
Wed
No Brainer Day
Feb 27 all-day

February 27 is No Brainer Day. It is believed that the holiday was created by Adrienne Sioux Koopersmith in the United States as a way to remind people that most things are simple, and that many problems we encounter daily have obvious and easy solutions.no-brainer-day-fun-heritage

The made-up holiday, which is also sometimes known as International No Brainer Day, also allows people to stop over analyzing things, second-guessing themselves, and to relax and take it easy.

Very Little Thought

The holiday gets its name from the English language phrase no brainer, which refers to decisions or choices that require very little effort and thought.

How to Celebrate?

  • That’s a no brainer of course! Take this day to relax your brain and stop yourself from over analyzing problems. Leave that for another day.

Did You Know…

…that in a study conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, neuroscientists found that the human brain could process an image that had been flashed before the person for as little as 13 milliseconds?

Mar
1
Fri
Bunsen Burner Day
Mar 1 all-day

Bunsen Burner Day on March 31 celebrates the inventor of the Bunsen Burner, German chemist Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen.

Bunsen Burner Day Fun Church  ©iStockphoto.com/IPGGutenbergUKLtd

Celebrate the magic of chemistry.

The most important contribution of Robert Bunsen, one that changed chemistry labs all over the world, was the Bunsen Burner.

Revolutionized Chemistry

A staple in all chemistry labs, the Bunsen Burner is a device that uses a flammable gas to produce a hot flame.

The Bunsen Burner was the precursor to the gas stove many people used in their homes today.

Photochemistry

Born on March 31, 1811 Robert Bunsen is thought to be a trailblazer in the field of photochemistry. Photochemistry is a specialized branch of chemistry that looks at the chemical effects of light.

He was also well-known for his work on the chemistry of arsenic, a chemical element that is used for a variety of purposes including preserving wood, but is also toxic to human beings and animals in larger quantities.

How to Celebrate?

  • Honor your chemistry teachers on this day. Thank them for all the knowledge they have imparted you.
  • Introduce young adults and children in your life to the joys of chemistry.
  • Learn more about the life of Robert Bunsen.

Did You Know…

…that Robert Bunsen also discovered caesium and rubidium with Gustav Kirchhoff? Caesium is one of 5 elements that are liquid at room temperature.

Smoke and Mirrors Day
Mar 1 all-day

Celebrate the magic on Smoke and Mirrors Day. Also sometimes known as Festival of Smoke and Mirrors Day, this unofficial holiday is celebrated annually on March 29

Smoke and Mirrors Day Church ©iStockphoto.com/bowie15

Celebrate illusions and magic.

Smoke and mirrors is an English language phrase that is used to describe things and actions that are deceptive, manipulative, or lack complete explanation.

Act of Illusion

Usually associated with illusionists and magicians, it is thought that the phrase originated from the classic act of illusion where a magician makes objects or people appear or disappear by using smokes and mirrors as a distraction. Because of this, the phrase is often used to refer to actions that distract from the reality or cover up the truth.

Things That Do Not Exist

In computing, the term smoke and mirrors is often used to refer to programs that seem to exist, but in reality do not.

Mirror Magic

Magic as a performance art has been used to entertain people around the world since ancient times. In smoke and mirror magic tricks, magicians create optical illusions by diverting a spectator’s attention away from the actions that create the “magic”. Mirrors are also often used to create illusions by manipulating light and using the properties of reflection and refraction. Some of the popular magic tricks using mirrors include the Sphinx and the Vampire. In both tricks, mirrors are used to hide the object, usually the head of a person.

How to Celebrate?

  • Learn some magic tricks and entertain your friends and colleagues. Preferably try to use smoke and mirrors in your tricks.
  • Spend some time learning about how to achieve illusions using mirrors.

Did You Know…

…that the earliest mirrors used by humans were bodies of dark, still water?

St David’s Day in Canada
Mar 1 all-day

Many Canadians of Welsh descent or those with Welsh connections celebrate St David’s Day on March 1 each year.

st davids day ca heritage

Daffodils may be worn on clothing on St David’s Day.

The Welsh flag is often seen during celebrations on the day, as well as daffodils or leeks pinned to clothing.

What Do People Do?

Many Welsh groups organize various festivities for St David’s Day in Canada. Events include choir concerts that celebrate the culture and heritage of Wales. Some concerts feature guest musicians from Wales. Some people of Welsh descent or organizations that have Welsh ties display the Welsh flag on St David’s Day. It is also a time for people of Welsh origin to wear daffodils or leeks on their clothing as a symbol of their connection to Wales.

Other celebrations for St David’s Day include St David’s Day balls, banquets, parades, and special church services. St David’s Day events are organized in towns and cities around Canada, including Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.

Public Life

St David’s Day is not a public holiday in Canada. However, it is a day of celebration so some community groups, schools, and businesses may have a special program specifically for St David’s Day.

Background

St David is the patron saint of Wales. He plays a very important role in Welsh culture but little is known about his life. St David’s Day is a time for Welsh communities in Canada to celebrate their background and to remember those with Welsh ties who made great contributions in Canada. People of Welsh background, such as 19th century explorer David Thompson and 20th century novelist Robertson Davies, are remembered on this day.

Many Canadians can trace their ancestry to Wales. For example, according to statistics from 2001, there are 60,000 Canadians of Welsh origin in Alberta alone.

World Compliment Day
Mar 1 all-day

March 1 is celebrated as World Compliment Day, a day that aims to address the “basic human need for recognition and appreciation”. world-compliment-day-fun-heritage

Started in the Netherlands by Hans Poortvliet in 2001, the day is now celebrated in many European countries including Norway and Belgium.

Spread Joy and Positivity

According to the official website of the unofficial holiday, Poortvliet created the day as a way to spread happiness and increase productivity. The website encourages people to use words instead of gifts as a way to praise and appreciate people. The idea is to create the “most positive day in the world”.

How to Celebrate?

  • Pay compliments to everyone you meet.
  • Appreciate family, coworkers and friends for their hard work and for being there in your life.

Did You Know…

…that there is a similar holiday, Compliment Day that is annually celebrated on January 24?

Soup’s On @ St Stephen's Memorial Hall
Mar 1 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

St Stephen’s Memorial Hall

hospitality-soups on-heritage

Mar
2
Sat
Old Stuff Day
Mar 2 all-day

March 2 is Old Stuff Day. Take some time on this made-up holiday to appreciate the beauty of all things old and vintage. old-stuff-day-fun-heritage

Or you can reflect on the same old (and sometimes boring) things that you do every day and take the opportunity to change things up.

How to Celebrate?

  • Sort out that crammed attic or basement, and throw away any old things you have no use for anymore.
  • Or, start a vintage collection. Visit thrift stores and flea markets – who knows what treasures you may come across?
  • Take a bit of time today to contemplate your life and to add a few new activities or hobbies to spice up your routine. Continuing on the theme of old things, perhaps you could pick up collecting old rocks?

Did You Know…

…that earliest known pieces of jewelry made by humans are thought to be about 100,000 years old? Found in a cave in Israel, the pieces were made from mollusk shells.

Take a Walk in the Park Day
Mar 2 all-day

Commune with nature and enjoy the bounties it has to offer on Take a Walk in the Park Day.

Take a walk in the park day fun church ©iStockphoto.com/lisafx

Take a walk in the park with someone you love.

Celebrated annually on March 30, the unofficial holiday encourages people to get active and enjoy the physical and mental benefits that come from walking in nature.

Better Health

Studies have shown that walking for about 30 minutes a day can have huge health benefits. Walking can not only help burn calories and reduce weight, but can also lower the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers. It can also increase heart activity and lower blood pressure.

Reduces Stress and Boosts Mood

Walking in nature – away from the dust and pollution of streets and cars, can boost moods and reduce stress. Studies have shown that people who hike or walk in green areas tend to be happier than those who don’t.

Take a Walk in the Park Day is also sometimes known as National Take a Walk in the Park Day in the United States.

How to Celebrate?

  • This one’s easy. Wear your finest walking shoes, leave your phone behind and breathe in the fresh air as you walk around your local park.
  • Recruit a good friend or a fun family member to accompany you on your walk. What better way to enjoy nature and maintain your health than to share it with a loved one?

Did You Know…

…that the Northeast Greenland National Park in Greenland is the world’s largest national park? Also the world’s northern-most park, it covers around 375,000 square miles (972,000 square kilometers) of land.

Mar
3
Sun
I Want You to be Happy Day
Mar 3 all-day

The anonymous creators of the unofficial holiday wanted to encourage people to do things that cheer up people around them.i-want-you-to-be-happy-day-fun-heritage

A Universal Emotion

Even though happiness is a universal emotion, it can mean different things to different people. In today’s busy world, it is easy to forget this and take on a more self-centric view of happiness. I Want You to be Happy Day inspires people set aside their definition of happiness and to find out what makes their loved ones happy and do those things for them.

Happy Days

The day is also known as National I Want You to be Happy Day in the United States.

Other happy holidays are Let’s Laugh Day, Random Act of Kindness Day, International Moment of Laughter Day and Laugh and Get Rich Day.

How to Celebrate?

  • Make someone’s day special. Compliment them or just do something special to make them happy.
  • Tell your loved ones how much they mean to you and that you will do everything to ensure that they are happy.
  • Having troubles with a friend or a family member? Sit down with them and clear things up and tell them that you want them to be happy.

Did You Know…

…that many believe that the phrase “happy as a clam” originates from the fact that open clams give an impression of a smiling clam? Other sources, however, suggest that the fuller version of the phrase – happy as a clam at high water – explains why a clam may be happy. At high water, clams tend to have no predators including humans.

The Lord’s Day
Mar 3 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Mar
4
Mon
March Forth and do Something Day
Mar 4 all-day

March Forth and Do Something Day is a made-up holiday celebrated each year on March 4.

march forth and do something day fun heritage

How about planting a community garden?

The holiday encourages people to do something new that enriches their own lives or the lives of people in their community.

March Fourth

The name of this unofficial holiday plays on the words, march fourth, which when spoken out loud sounds like march forth – an expression used to convey action and moving forward.

Homonyms

March fourth and march forth are homophones – words or expressions that are pronounced alike, but have different meanings. Homographs on the other hand are words or expressions that are spelled the same way but have different meanings. Examples of such words include bass (a deep sound and a type of fish) and bow (to bend, the front of a ship and a type of knot). Homophones and homographs are both types of homonyms.

How to Celebrate?

  • March forth and do something.
  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Start something that you have always wanted to do, but have never had the chance to.

Did You Know…

…that the word March is a capitonym? Capitonyms are words or expressions whose meaning changes depending on where it’s capitalized or not. March refers to the month, while march refers to a walking in a measured way.

Mar
5
Tue
Learn What Your Name Means Day
Mar 5 all-day

On March 5 or Learn What Your Name Means Day to find out the out the origin and history of your name – first and last. Maybe you’ll find a great tale behind your name? learn-what-your-name-means-day-fun-heritage

The holiday is part of Celebrate Your Name Week created by American Jerry Hill in 1997. The purpose of the week is to encourage people to celebrate and appreciate their unique names.

Types of Names

A name is a word used to identify people, places and things. A person’s identification is called a person name or full name and usually consists of at least two words – the given name, which is also known as first name, and the surname, family name or last name.

The purpose of the surname or family name is to indicate that the person belongs to a specific family or clan. In many cultures, people are identified by a single name.

Tracing History

Because of different naming conventions around the world, a person’s name, while not unique, can tell a lot of the person’s heritage and family history. For example, many societies in the world use patronymic names – at least one part of a person’s name comes from the father’s family.

By following the chain of shared names back, one can find, if records exist, a lot about one’s ancestors. Similarly, some cultures follow a matronymic tradition where part of a person’s name comes from the mother’s side of the family.

How to Celebrate?

  • Talk to your parents or family members about your name. Ask them why they gave you your name and what it means. With a little bit of research you may be able to find out about the lives of your ancestors.
  • How about learning your name in morse code?

Did You Know…

…that the study of the history, origin and meaning of proper names is called onomatology?

Mar
7
Thu
Alexander Graham Bell Day
Mar 7 all-day

Alexander Graham Bell Day is celebrated every year on March 7. alexander graham bell day fun heritage

The unofficial holiday recognizes the day in 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for the technology that would later become the telephone and changed the world of communications.

Patent Date

On March 7, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for “transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically.” Three days later, on March 10, Bell uttered the famous words “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you” into a transmitter. His assistant, Thomas Watson, who was in the next room, heard the words clearly and thus, the first telephone was created.

In commemoration of the day he was granted the patent, Bell’s fans around the world celebrate March 7 as Alexander Graham Bell Day. It is a day recognized by an official act of the legislature in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Prolific Inventor

In addition to the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell is also credited for being the inventor of the metal detector and is known for developing the Hydrodome, a watercraft that set a world marine speed record in 1919.

How to Celebrate?

  • Learn more about the science and technology behind the telephone and the cell phone.
  • Visit your local telecommunications museum.
  • Every time you call a friend or text someone send a silent thanks to Bell. Without him, we would still be using pigeons to send messages.

Did You Know…

…that Bell was one of the founding members of the National Geographic Society?

Mar
8
Fri
International Women’s Day
Mar 8 all-day

International Women’s Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. international womens day heritage

What Do People Do?

International Women’s Day events are held worldwide on March 8. Various women, including political, community, and business leaders, as well as leading educators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and television personalities, are usually invited to speak at various events on the day. Such events may include seminars, conferences, luncheons, dinners or breakfasts. The messages given at these events often focus on various themes such as innovation, the portrayal of women in the media, or the importance of education and career opportunities.

Many students in schools and other educational settings participate in special lessons, debates or presentations about the importance of women in society, their influence, and issues that affect them. In some countries school children bring gifts to their female teachers and women receive small presents from friends or family members. Many workplaces make a special mention about International Women’s Day through internal newsletters or notices, or by handing out promotional material focusing on the day.

Public Life

International Women’s Day, is a public holiday in some countries such as (but not exclusive to):

  • Azerbaijan.
  • Armenia.
  • Belarus.
  • Kazakhstan.
  • Moldova
  • Russia.
  • Ukraine.

Many businesses, government offices, educational institutions are closed in the above-mentioned countries on this day, where it is sometimes called Women’s Day. International Women’s Day is a national observance in many other countries. Some cities may host various wide-scale events such as street marches, which may temporarily affect parking and traffic conditions.

Background

Much progress has been made to protect and promote women’s rights in recent times. However, nowhere in the world can women claim to have all the same rights and opportunities as men, according to the UN. The majority of the world’s 1.3 billion absolute poor are women. On average, women receive between 30 and 40 percent less pay than men earn for the same work. Women also continue to be victims of violence, with rape and domestic violence listed as significant causes of disability and death among women worldwide.

The first International Women’s Day occurred on March 19 in 1911. The inaugural event, which included rallies and organized meetings, was a big success in countries such as Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. The March 19 date was chosen because it commemorated the day that the Prussian king promised to introduce votes for women in 1848. The promise gave hope for equality but it was a promise that he failed to keep. The International Women’s Day date was moved to March 8 in 1913.

The UN drew global attention to women’s concerns in 1975 by calling for an International Women’s Year. It also convened the first conference on women in Mexico City that year. The UN General Assembly then invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace in 1977. The day aimed to help nations worldwide eliminate discrimination against women. It also focused on helping women gain full and equal participation in global development.

Symbols

The International Women’s Day logo is in purple and white and features the symbol of Venus, which is also the symbol of being female.  The faces of women of all backgrounds, ages, and nations are also seen in various promotions, such as posters, postcards and information booklets, on International Women’s Day.  Various messages and slogans that promote the day are also publicized during this time of the year.

External Links

International Women’s Day official site

Soup’s On @ St Stephen's Memorial Hall
Mar 8 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

St Stephen’s Memorial Hall

hospitality-soups on-heritage

Mar
10
Sun
Mario Day
Mar 10 – Mar 11 all-day

March 10 is Mario Day, a day to celebrate the main character of the popular Nintendo video game franchise, Super Mario.

mario day fun heritage

Mario falls when he skids on a banana peel.

Fictional Italian Plumber

The Super Mario video games follows the adventures of Italian plumber Mario and his brother Luigi while they try to rescue Princess Peach from the evil Bowser. Princess Peach is the princess of the fictional Mushroom Kingdom in which the game is set.

Best-Selling Game

Considered to be the best-selling video game of all time and one of the most recognizable video game characters in the world, Mario was created by Shigeru Miyamoto. Since his first appearance in the 1981 Nintendo game, Donkey Kong as Jumpman, Mario has featured in over 200 video games, and several television shows and comics.

How to Celebrate?

  • Spend the day playing the iconic game.
  • Have a super Mario themed party. Serve star shaped cookies , mushroom shaped cupcakes, and chocolate coins.
  • And if you are brave enough, why not dress up like Mario for the day?

Did You Know…

…that when Mario made his first gaming appearance as Jumpman, he was not a plumber but a carpenter?

The Lord’s Day
Mar 10 – Mar 11 all-day

The Lord’s Day in Christianity is generally Sunday, the principal day of communal worship.

the-lord's-day-fun-heritageIt is observed by most Christians as the weekly memorial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is said in the canonical Gospels to have been witnessed alive from the dead early on the first day of the week. According to some sources, Christians held worship on Sunday in the 1st century.

How to Celebrate?

  • Attend a Church service. Stay for the meet and greet following.
  • Say a prayer for the first person comes to mind.
  • Resolve to be a kinder person.

Did You Know…

… The earliest Biblical example of Christians meeting together on a Sunday for the purpose of “breaking bread” and preaching is cited in the New Testament book The Acts of the Apostles chapter 20 and verse 7 (Acts 20:7).

Mar
11
Mon
Oatmeal Nut Waffle Day
Mar 11 all-day

March 11 is Oatmeal Nut Waffle Day. It is a day to treat yourself to not just waffles, but the healthier version of the popular breakfast food.

oatmeal nut waffle day fun heritage

Oatmeal nut waffles are delicious and healthy.

Oatmeal nut waffles are made by adding quick cooking oats and different types of nuts to the regular waffle batter of flour, eggs and butter. They can be eaten the same way as waffles – as is or with different toppings like fruit, yogurt, whipped cream or jelly (jam).

Wholesome and Nutritious

Oatmeal nut waffles not only easy to make, but are also more wholesome and nutritious than regular waffles due to the addition of oats and nuts.

Oats are cereal grains that are high in proteins, minerals and fiber. Studies have shown that regular consumption of oats can reduce bad cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and certain types of cancers.

Medieval Origins

Now enjoyed by people around the world as a dessert or breakfast dish, waffles are thought to have originated in Europe during the Middle Ages. The original waffles were made for religious purposes, usually from some form of grain and water, and frequently depicted religious symbols and patterns.

Waffle Day

Waffles are celebrated on two other days during the year – March 25 and August 24. The August 24 Waffle Day commemorates the day in 1869 when the first waffle iron was patented in the United States.

How to Celebrate?

  • With lots of oatmeal nut waffles! Add an assortment of nuts – pecans, cashews, almonds and walnuts. What about adding some raisins or dates to the mix?
  • Experiment with toppings. Make savory oatmeal nut waffles instead of sweet waffles. Serve the waffles with cream cheese, sour cream or vegetables.

Did You Know…

…that in North America, the word waffle can also mean to change one’s mind frequently? In the United Kingdom, it is usually used to refer to conversations about trivial matters.

Mar
12
Tue
Alfred Hitchcock Day
Mar 12 all-day

March 12 is National Alfred Hitchcock Day, a day to celebrate the life, times and work of master filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock.

alfred hitchcock day fun heritage

Alfred Hitchcock directed over 50 movies over a span of 50 years.

It is not known why this date was chosen to commemorate Hitchcock, since it does not correspond to his birthday or the day he died.

A Long Career

Alfred Hitchcock’s prolific film-making career spanned half a decade – he began making movies in 1921 and made his last film, Family Plot in 1976. His unique cinematic style in the genre of psychological thrillers and suspense movies earned him the title of Master of Suspense.

In addition to making movies, Hitchcock created an hosted a television series called Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

How to Celebrate

  • Gather your friends and do a Hitchcock movie marathon. Some of his more famous movies include The Psycho, Vertigo and The Birds.
  • One of the unique things about Hitchcock’s movies is that he played a cameo role in most of them. So, while watching doing a Hitchcock movie marathon, play the spot-Hitchcock’s-cameo game. Whoever spots the most cameos wins.
  • Host an Alfred Hitchcock themed party. Decorate your venue with birds related props, serve your guests pecan pie (from Marnie), Moroccan tagine (from The Man Who Knew Too Much) and Chicken (from Notorious). Screen Murder Party, an episode from Alfred Hitchcock Presents for your guests.

Did You Know…

…that Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar in the Best Director category?

Mar
14
Thu
Commonwealth Day in Canada
Mar 14 all-day

Commonwealth Day is annually held on the second Monday of March. it commemorates the Commonwealth of Nations, which is a union of some countries that used to be part of the British Empire. The date was chosen because it did not have any previous historical connotations.

Commonwealth Day Canada

On Commonwealth Day the Royal Union flag is flown with Canada’s national flag on or at government buildings and premises.

What Do People Do?

Commonwealth Day is not a widely marked day in many parts of Canada. Federal government regulations stipulate that the Royal Union Flag, or Union Jack, should be flown alongside the national flag of Canada on or at government buildings and premises, such as federal buildings, military bases and airports. The Royal Union Flag should only be flown from sunrise to sunset and where physical arrangements allow. In practical terms, this means that there should be at least two flag poles. The Royal Union Flag should not replace the Canadian flag if there is only one flag pole. In some years, particular communities mark Commonwealth Day with receptions or exhibitions.

Public Life

Commonwealth Day is not a public holiday in Canada. Stores, post offices, businesses and other organizations are open as usual. Public transport services run to their normal timetables. Schools may be closed, as Commonwealth Day often falls in the mid-winter break, a school holiday in March, which lasts one week.

Background

In the 1800s, Great Britain controlled a large empire that included a large part of what is now Canada. Many influential figures in Canada at that time had British roots and wished to celebrate and emphasize these. From 1898, Empire Day was celebrated in Canadian schools on the last school day before Queen Victoria’s Birthday on May 24. The celebrations often lasted a whole day and included speeches by trustees and the singing of inspirational songs. After Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, her birthday became an annual commemoration of her life and the pride people felt for being part of the British Empire. To celebrate, people often lit fireworks and bonfires.

As time passed and Canadians developed a separate identity from Great Britain, Empire Day became less important. In 1958, it was renamed Commonwealth Day to reflect the changes in the relationship between Great Britain and her former colonies. In 1973, a Canadian proposal was made to observe Commonwealth Day on the same day in all Commonwealth countries, the second Monday in March. This date was chosen because it did not have any significant historical connotations.  In 1976, this proposal was accepted. However, the last Monday before or on May 24 remained a statutory holiday, known as Victoria Day, in many Canadian provinces and territories.

Commonwealth Day is also officially observed in a large number of countries that were formally part of the British Empire. These include many of the countries in the Caribbean and the United Kingdom. However, there are few notable celebrations to mark the day.