The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Our New Day: How and Why We Kept It
Empire Day, May 23rd, 1899

by Mrs. G. Gwyn, Ontario, Canada
Volume 11, 1900, pg. 47

The principle of setting apart certain days for particular purposes is as old as creation itself. The Queen's birthday, May 24th, has for many years been our spring holiday, and we really need it; after the cold discomforts and isolation of the winter, all look forward to it, and the children have a rhyme which expresses their ideas on the subject--

                   "The twenty-fourth of May is the Queen's birthday,
                     If you don't give us a holiday we'll all run away."

We know that this day cannot always be the birthday of the reigning Sovereign, and it was thought if we could combine the feelings of loyalty and patriotism with our holiday, it might be a more lasting arrangement, so it was arranged that part of the celebrations of the Queen's birthday should be held in the schools, and that it should be called Empire Day. For weeks beforehand, the children in our public schools practiced national and patriotic songs, and on the morning of the day, the room in which the exercises were to be held was decorated with flags, and maple leaves, our Canadian emblem. The children prepared and read short bright papers on all the countries under British government, and thus learnt and thought of many places and people of which they might otherwise have remained ignorant. The children also drew from memory, some of them very well, maps showing all the Queen's dominions, and they found it quite an interesting lesson. Gentlemen who were interested in the subject gave loyal and stirring addresses, and spoke of how thankful we should be to be part of so great an Empire, and of how every one, whatever his or her business, may be truly an Empire builder, if only the work is done thoroughly and well, for "righteousness exalteth a nation."

This short account from one of the Colonies it was thought, might interest the readers of the Parent's Review, as it was certainly in the highest degree educative, drawing out good and unselfish feelings. We believe that, at the present moment, there is no sentiment more widely felt than personal love and loyalty to Victoria, our gracious Queen. What other feeling could have possessed the hearts of so many millions of divers people at the time of the Queen's Jubilee?

"Empire Day, observed annually on the school day preceding the May 24 holiday for Queen Victoria's birthday, was the most important patriotic rite for children in English-speaking Canada during the half century following its first observance 23 May 1899." from the Canadian Encyclopedia See also Victoria Day, and National Patriot's Day. Victoria died in 1901.

Proofread June 2011, LNL