About Commonwealth Day
When is Commonwealth Day?
Commonwealth Day is a moveable holiday celebrating the British Commonwealth.
Commonwealth Day is celebrated on the second Monday in March. Only two (Gibraltar and Turks and Caicos Islands) of the 53 member countries celebrate Commonwealth Day as a national holiday.
History of Commonwealth Day
At the end of the nineteenth century, when the British Empire was arguably at its peak, Empire Day was established in Canada. The holiday was held on the last school day before Queen Victoria's birthday, May 24th.
Following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, the holiday grew in popularity across the empire. The horrors of the First World War changed how the holiday should be celebrated, with it becoming more a day of remembrance.
With the surge for independence from the empire in the late 1950s, the British prime minister Harold MacMillan announced that Empire Day would be changed to Commonwealth Day. In 1976, the date of the holiday was switched to the Second Monday in March. This date was chosen as no Commonwealth country had a public holiday on that day and almost all countries had school terms.
The Commonwealth was founded on December 11th 1931.
Did you know?
In Canada, Empire Day became Victoria Day and remains a public holiday celebrated on the Monday before May 25th.
The day is marked by a Commonwealth Service held at Westminster Abbey in London.
Every year a specific theme is chosen for Commonwealth Day. The 2020 theme is 'Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming'.
As the Commonwealth Charter, explains "This theme was chosen because the governments and people of our diverse family of 53 Commonwealth countries connect at many levels through extensive and deep-rooted networks of friendship and goodwill.".