Hold My Beer and Farewell Best Beloved

Victoria Day is a Canadian statutory holiday celebrated on the Monday preceding May 25 in every province and territory. It honours Queen Victoria’s birthday.

Doulton Fountain, Glasgow

Every province? Really? Quebecers celebrate Victoria Day?

In Quebec this holiday is called “National Patriotes (sic) Day”
(Journée nationale des patriotes or Fête des Patriotes).

Yeah, no. “National Patriots’ Day” is not what Quebecers call the day that they celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday.

National Patriots’ Day (Journée nationale des patriotes) is a commemoration of the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837. This holiday is celebrated on the same day as Victoria Day. (emphasis added)

But never mind that. In all but one province, Canadians celebrate Victoria Day. And even though we call this the May 24th weekend, the date varies because of how it’s defined: the Monday preceding May 25. This year, for example, Victoria Day is May 23.

But the 24th nomenclature has a certain claim on our national psyche, and not just — or maybe even not primarily — because Victoria was born on May 24 in 1819. As the site helpfully notes and *footnotes:

.  . . it marks the unofficial start of the cottage season
where cases of beer* are consumed by hard working Canadians.

*A case of beer containing 24 bottles or cans is called a two-four.

So, Happy Two-four Day, whether you are hard-working or not and no matter where you live. Which brings us to our point. A brewery in Finland has launched a new lager in honour of the country’s application to join NATO (full story here).

The new lager is called Otan olutta – the first word a play on the French variation of the initials of North Atlantic Treaty Organization. 

Photo by Olaf Brewing

NATO/OTAN – get it? I knew you would. But wait, there’s more.

The full name also means “I’ll have a beer” in Finnish.

Whoa, Nelly.  Some word play on the French acronym for NATO yields not just a coherent but an entirely apropos name in Finnish for a new lager? Clearly this was meant to be, although opinions vary, as always. (Offside as usual: Moscow. Do they even *have* a cottage season?)

Moscow initially threatened unspecified retaliation. “We are under the bear’s arm here, so to speak,” Vanttinen said in the brewery in Savonlinna, Eastern Finland.

But no one was panicking, he added. “We think joining NATO is a good decision and after good decisions it is normal to have a beer, right?” he added.

“After good decisions it is normal to have a beer, right?” Well, buddy, maybe that’s how you do things in Finland but in Canada it’s probably more normal to have a beer right before a bad decision. To wit . . .

Hold my beer and watch this.

Or, as Victoria herself might have put it, a little more formally . . .

Hold my beer and farewell best beloved.

That’s just a guess, of course, riffing on the inscription she chose for Frogmore Mausoleum, where she and Prince Albert are interred . . .

Farewell best beloved,
here at last I shall rest with thee,
with thee in Christ I shall rise again

Anyway, it seems apropos for this particular weekend, defined as it is by her (for most of us) and by beer drinking (for, um, many of us).

As for Olaf Brewing, we sincerely wish you all the best with OTAN olutta. And with, um, the rest of it.

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6 Responses to Hold My Beer and Farewell Best Beloved

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    Strange thing. When we lived in Ontario, “two-four” was commonly heard for a double-case of beer. Since I moved out to B.C., I don’t recall hearing that term at all. It might form the basis for someone’s doctoral thesis on regional variants in beer terminology?

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Hmm. I might have picked up this usage in Ontario, but not being a beer drinker I can’t be sure whether it’s used in Alberta or not. You’re right – definitely doctoral-thesis worthy.

  2. barbara carlson says:

    This holiday always reminds John and I of our years doing the Festival of Spring in the late 70s… It went on until 9 PM and we couldn’t feel the bottoms of our legs, as the cold crept up into them. We would start the 9-day show with the leaves just coming in and end it with a mother of a storm. — Mike Dubroy would look at the storm and say, “We have 20 minutes, guys, so get ready,” and six or eight of us would go to our stations and keep the huge tent from flying way.
    Then the sun would come back out and the grass would be flooded — kids would
    make a slide out it 50 yards long. Good times.

  3. Eric J Hrycyk says:

    At one point in time long ago and in a world far, far away beers were used to calculate mileage.

    How far to Grand Beach – four beers.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Eric – (Head-in-hands icon here.) Yes, and people in smaller centres drove home from the company Xmas party because they were too drunk to walk.

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