Capping the Holidays

In keeping with the festive and festival time of year, I thought I would end Say What! for 2013 with a look at the holidays. Most writers don’t have any trouble knowing when to capitalize the major holidays like Easter and Christmas. But it can get a little fuzzy with some of the other holidays. And good reason. There is little consistency in the “rules” for “capping the holidays.” Without a handy list like this, writers may have to head to the punch bowl for another cup of eggnog!

Here are some other holidays and relative expressions and the correct ways to write them:

  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Eve Day [no Chicago rule but seems the prevailing style]
  • New Year’s Day
  • New Year’s Eve
  • New Year’s
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day [no comma and no Dr.]
  • Happy New Year [most sources say to use caps unless you are talking generically about a new year and not the celebration]
  • Valentine’s Day [but, “be my valentine”]
  • Presidents’ Day [although AP leaves out the apostrophe]
  • Veterans Day [you’d think it would follow the same rule as above, but no]
  • Columbus Day [so why isn’t it Columbus’s Day, in keeping with the prevailing style?]
  • Mother’s Day [why isn’t this one plural possessive like Presidents’ Day? Are we only celebrating one mother? If so, whose?]
  • Father’s Day [same here]

If you want to get a bit more confused, you can argue whether to write Secretary’s Day or Secretaries’ Day. Are you honoring just one secretary or all of them in your office? Same goes for Boss’s Day or Bosses’ Day. I don’t know when that holiday came into being, but I imagine after the secretaries were getting goodies and being taken out to lunch, the bosses felt left out. I wonder if anyone’s come up with Bloggers’ Day yet? I could use that box of chocolates right now!

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  1. We have but one mother and one father (political correctness aside)hence the singular use. And there could be an argument that Valentine’s Day should be Valentines’ Day as love should not be restricted to the singular. And of course Columbus Day if possessive would be Columbus’ Day (sans the extra ‘s’) Unless there were more than one Columbus which would then be Columbuses’ Day or would that be Columbusses’ or Columbae’s?

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