Today is Family Day here in Ontario. Family Day takes place on the third Monday of February. It’s also observed in New Brunswick, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia; it’s called Islander Day in PEI, Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, and Nova Scotia Heritage Day in (you guessed it) Nova Scotia. Most of us in the private sector get the day off, but federal workers don’t. Banks and most stores are closed.
It’s a fairly new holiday. It all started in 1990 in Alberta, when Premier Don Getty created a February holiday so Albertans could spend time with their families. The date was chosen to coincide with Washington’s Birthday, to avoid disrupting trade with the United States. Over the years, other provinces adopted the holiday – often as a campaign promise at election time, as happened in Ontario in 2008.
Before that, there was no public holiday between New Year’s Day and Good Friday, which was a mighty long three-month gap filled with a whole lot of winter. The real value of Family Day is that it gives us something to look forward to at the point in the season when we’re fed up with the snow and cold and aren’t sure we can take much more.
If the weather cooperates, a good use of the day off is to enjoy winter activities with your family, such as skating, skiing, sledding or snowman building. If you find it too cold to hang around outside, museums and art galleries are open. Or just putting on a fire and playing board games with the kids sounds good to me!
If today is a holiday where you live, what will you be doing?