What are your essential May 2-4 traditions?

Postcard of Victoria Day celebrations at Queen...
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For Canadians this Victoria Day weekend, affectionately known as the May 2-4 weekend signals the start of warm weekends of relaxation.  In Ontario, it has been affectionately called the May 2-4 weekend, a slang term, for the propensity of novice drinkers to foolishly consume a case of 24 bottles of beer very quickly.  Some call this weekend the real start of summer but, weather-wise, it is the apex of the spring season. In more temperate areas of the country, deciduous trees are coming into full leaf, flowering trees are at their glorious best and spring bulbs continue their burst of colour. Temperature may climb to 25C but evenings remain cool and the earth is only gradually warming enough to plant tender annuals.

Before retirement this May 2-4 statutory holiday meant having an extra day of fun at the cottage or an extra day for spring gardening.  With retirement, keeping the Victoria Day traditions alive is part of the ritual that marks the transition of the seasons.

The excitement of the first long weekend of the season is everywhere.   Garden centres are busy.  People are buying summer toys and camping equipment.  Winter coats are history and sun tops and flip-flops are everywhere.   What are some of the wonderful Canadian traditions of this weekend?

  1. It’s time to open to the cottage.   Cars, trucks and vans filled with families, pets and ‘stuff’ clog the highways.
  2. It’s time to start gardening.  Every green thumb begins to itch.  Dreams of the perfect summer garden come alive.
  3. It’s time to bring out the summer clothes.  No more woolies — just flowing dresses, sandals, and comfortable t-shirts.
  4. It’s time to start eating outdoors.  Dinner al fresco with a loved one and a perfect bottle of wine is again possible.
  5. It’s time to take out the canoe.  Many creeks and rivers beckon those who need adventure.
  6. It’s time to deal with the dandelions and other weeds.  With pesticide sales banned in Ontario, every lawn seems covered in yellow dandelions.
  7. It’s time to go to the local farmer’s market to buy spring produce.  Our market opened today and had splendid spring greens — asparagus, spinach, rhubarb, and various types of lettuce to tempt every taste.
  8. It’s time to store the winter tires.  For those who have not changed their tires to the all-season variety — this is the weekend.  Frost may come, but no more snow is likely (thank goodness!)
  9. It’s time to check out the air conditioner to prepare for the first hot and humid days.  When that switch on the thermostat moves from ‘heat’ to ‘cool’ a happy whirr from the cooling unit brings sure relief.
  10. It’s time for the first dip in the lake.  Only sissies don’t venture into the freezing water for a quick swim on the long weekend.  Lake Huron was only 37F last weekend but our son was riding the waves on his paddle board — complete with wetsuit!
  11. It’s time to check out your favourite patio restaurant for some craft beer.  Ontario has great micro breweries and many sell only to speciality restaurants.  A great tasting opportunity with the right ambience.
  12. It’s time to schedule that first game of golf.  For me, a frustrating game — but for many, the ultimate in relaxation.
  13. It’s time to do that spring cleaning.  Winter dust seems to have settled in every crevice.  My advice — dust if you must — but only on a rainy day.
  14. It’s time for the smell of newly cut grass.  How can one describe that wonderful smell?  It’s a true sign of spring to hear the mowers throughout the subdivision.
  15. It’s time to pay serious attention to sunscreen applications.  After losing my only sister to melanoma last year, I made a promise to use sunscreen diligently and always to wear a sun hat.
  16. It’s time for the first barbeque of the season.  We’re still lovers of red meat — in moderation– and firing up the barbie to cook those first steaks of the season marks a culinary transition.
  17. It’s time to change exercise routines.  The gym is great in bad weather but there are so many outdoor opportunities to keep the body healthy — just taking a walk through the neighbourhood is a delight.
  18. It’s time for that annual fishing trip. Many love the thrill of fly fishing — even if the catch is returned into the water.
  19. It’s time to go camping.  In camping families, the best memories come from those nights when everyone sleeps in a tent under the stars, tells ghost stories, and enjoys the cool night air.
  20. It’s time to spend a lazy afternoon outdoors with a good book.  It may seem like goofing off but just sitting in the sun with a bestseller can be the ultimate pleasure during the spring time.
After endless days of wet weather and record rainfalls in the Toronto region, some of these traditions may change this year.  For our family, we did the cottage thing last weekend to accommodate everyone’s schedules.  Gardening is on hold until the ground dries enough to begin digging; grass cutting may not even be possible given the forecast.  But we will find time to sit outside when the sun does make an appearance to enjoy the lush green of the back garden, to attend a fireworks display in celebration of the fact that Canada is part of the tradition of the British Empire, and we’ll do a barbeque meal — even if my husband has to use his umbrella to shelter from rain.  Keeping up the Victoria Day — aka May 24 weekend — traditions helps to keep structure in our retired lives.

3 Replies to “What are your essential May 2-4 traditions?”

  1. Nice thoughts for May 2-4 weekend. Not being old Canadians, or having a cottage to open up, our tradition is gardening. There are three people in our household who are suffering from sun exposure, sore backs and aching limbs but are very satisfied with the newly cut lawns, many annuals, a few extra perennials, as well as the great kitchen garden. In a short while we’ll be eating herbs, vegetables and salads from our own patch and cutting flowers for the house. The magic of the changing seasons never ceases to amaze me.

    1. Two of us have worked at the garden in the past few days. It’s looking better but we’re not nearly done!

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