Many holidays in Mexico have fixed dates, some for obvious reasons, such as Cinco de Mayo (meaning “Fifth of May”), but also others like Labour Day (May 1st) and even Mother’s Day, as I have mentioned before, always celebrated on May 10th. When I was growing up, it happened oftentimes that if a holiday landed on a Thursday or a Tuesday, people would take the in-between Friday or Monday off, creating a puente (bridge) for a four-day weekend. In recent years (after I moved to Canada), that has changed, and some holidays in the Mexican calendar are being observed on the nearest Friday or Monday, avoiding puentes. When I first came to Canada, I was introduced to this “mobile” holiday system almost right away. It was May 23rd, a Monday, just five days after landing in the country, when I went to school to find a deserted university campus, and was left wondering why all the stores were closed, as well. The next day, I was told that it had been due to Victoria Day, a Canadian holiday also known as “May Two-Four Weekend”, to celebrate queen Elizabeth’s birthday. “Uh?” A needed explanation for the newbie, followed: Queen Victoria was born on May 24, 1819; the British colonies in what is now Canada established the day as a holiday during Victoria’s reign, and after the queen’s death in 1901, the Canadian Parliament established Victoria Day as an official holiday, to be celebrated on May 24th. The new king, Edward VII, was also celebrated on Victoria Day, following a British custom of celebrating a sovereign’s birthday on that of the predecessor’s, but the next two kings, George V and Edward VIII, who were both born in June, were celebrated on that month. George VI and Elizabeth II continued to be celebrated in June (although their respective birthdays are December 14, and April 21.) Canada is the only country that continues to celebrate Victoria Day as an official holiday, and in 1952, it was made a “mobile” holiday, always on the Monday preceding May 25th. Finally, in 1957, only in Canada as well, queen Elizabeth’s birthday celebration was moved from June to Victoria Day. The name “May Two-Four” continued to be used, as a reference to the original date, and queen Victoria’s actual birthday.
This is also the first long weekend of the Canadian spring/summer season, when – at last – the warm temperatures seem to be here to stay. Many stores use it to mark the beginning of their summer sales: gardening centres are bursting with seedlings, flowers and other plants; hardware stores offer their new lines of gardening, camping, and BBQ equipment; side-walk and garage sales are popping everywhere. Some cities have parades, for example the city of Victoria, BC (of course); and the fireworks are a must, some starting as early as tonight, and continuing throughout the weekend until Monday. Many people open their pools, cottages and sheds for a first taste of summer. We have neither a pool nor a cottage, and our shed was devastated by a strong wind two years ago (a different story for another post), but I will be quite happy in my backyard, transplanting all the seedlings I started indoors about a month ago (or longer in some cases), and maybe enjoying a very Canadian BBQ, probably with a Mexican appetizer, though, as the one pictured above. Long live the queen!
The appetizer pictured above consists of a traditional Pico de Gallo fruit salad (yes, a fruit salad; click here for recipe, and background story), with large chunks of pineapple, mango, and jícama, as well as orange sections. All that is needed is a sprinkle of Tajín™ seasoning (or ground chile piquín and salt) and lime juice. This spicy-salty-sour appetizer may be sampled alternating with sips from a shot of good Tequila (reposado or añejo) and a shot of sangrita, the classic non-alcoholic beverage to pair with Tequila. In Mexico, sangrita is sold bottled, but I have never seen it in Canada, so I developed my own recipe (following). My husband loved the combo, but decided to mix his Tequila and sangrita together, creating a cocktail that I called the “Bloody Margarita”; it tastes great, too, and might be a good option if the Tequila at hand is not top quality. Some kids – including my younger self – like the sangrita by itself, maybe served with a side of corn chips, or cucumber slices.
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp onion powder
2-3 dashes red hot sauce, such as Tapatío™, Tabasco™, or Red Hot™
Salt, to taste
Thoroughly mix all ingredients. Serve cold or at room temperature in Tequila shot glasses, paired with a shot of good quality Tequila.
Note: For a “Bloody Margarita”, mix the above recipe with 1/4 cup of Tequila and some ice, enough for nice cocktails for four people.