Today is a public holiday here in Perth, Western Australia, a fact which we learned rather belatedly as we tried to run an errand tonight. I found myself desperately wanting some coffee so at around 6 pm we set out to go to the grocery store to get some. But store after store we tried was closed! I vaguely remembered people at church yesterday mentioning it was a three day weekend, but I was not expecting so much of the world to be shut down.
Eventually, out of curiosity, I googled what holiday it is. Turns out, it is the public holiday known as the Queen's Birthday! But then I noticed some anomalies that led me further down the Google rabbit hole...
Today is not actually the Queen's birthday.
She was born on April 21, 1926 so it's actually quite a bit far off from her birthday. (And wow, she is 93!)
Most of the commonwealth including the UK and parts of Australia actually celebrate the Queen's birthday in June.
Until the 1930's the monarch's birthday was always celebrated on or close to the reigning monarch's actual birthday. This changed in 1936 with the death of King George V (Elizabeth's grandfather) - then it was fixed to the second Monday in June. His birthday had been June 3 and I guess everyone was just tired of having to change the date every couple of decades.
In Australia, the Queen's birthday is celebrated on the second Monday in June everywhere except for two states - Queensland and Western Australia. We are in Perth, Western Australia which celebrates on the last Monday in September, whiles Queensland celebrates on the first Monday in October. According to my Google search Western Australia moved the date to September because in June they celebrate Western Australia Day which commemorates the founding of Swan River Colony in 1829.
But wait, there's more!
Steve just told us that while the UK celebrates the Queen's Birthday in June (even though it's actually in April) they don't get the day off for it! Yet here in Australia when they celebrate the Queen's Birthday in September (even though it's actually in April) everyone gets a three day weekend and most of the city is shut down. Crazy!
So in short, Happy Birthday to the Queen, I guess?
I gotta admit, I would not be mad about having so many birthday celebrations spread out over the year. Must be nice to be the Queen.