The new year is here. What better time to learn to write on the New Year, as well as Presidents’ Day, Mother’s Day, and 12 full months of hard-to-write vacation? Here’s your guide to navigating apostrophes, plurals, and vacation capitalization in 2022.
New Year / New Year / New year. When talking about holidays, New Years, always start with capitals. “Good year!” If you add the s, place an apostrophe in front of: “a New Year’s resolution”. When you speak generically of the coming year, put it in lowercase. “I wish you health and happiness for the New Year.”
New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day. Eve and day are proper nouns for holidays, so capitalize them.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day On the third Monday in January, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is written without “Rev”. or “Dr.” in the Associated Press and Chicago publishing styles. No comma needed around “Jr.”
Valentine’s day. Singular possessive. If you’re talking about your sweetheart or a card you’re sending, you can put the v: Be my valentine lowercase. I’m sending a valentine. You can also call the holiday Valentine’s Day.
President’s Day. There are several correct ways to write this holiday, which falls on the third Monday in February. The AP style does not say an apostrophe: Presidents Day. The Chicago style writes it in the possessive plural, with the apostrophe after the s: Presidents’ Day. But the federal government and some states are now calling it Washington’s birthday. Make your choice.
St. Patrick’s Day. This holiday of March 17 is possessive singular, so the apostrophe goes before the s.
April Fool. Treat this as a plural possessive, with the apostrophe after the s: Fools’. If someone falls for the April Fool’s Day trap, you can call them an April Fool’s Day with a lowercase f.
Mothers’ Day. Logic is unnecessary in determining whether holiday names are possessive in the singular or possessive in the plural. Example: Mother’s Day. Yes, it is a day to recognize all mothers. But it is treated as a singular possessive, with the apostrophe before the s. See it as the day of who you can call Mother.
July 4th, July 4th, 4th. Editors spell out the word Fourth and capitalize it, even when it is a holiday nickname: Fourth. But that’s just because it’s a holiday. Regular dates typically use numbers: July 5, 2022 or July 5, 2022.
Veterans Day. Sometimes a word can be either possessive or an adjective, which is why the farmers market and the farmers market are both correct. On this holiday of February 11, “Veterans” is generally considered an adjective, so no apostrophe.
Thanksgiving Day. When using “Day” in the name, go ahead and capitalize it.
Christmas Day, Christmas Eve. This “day” is also capitalized whenever you choose to use it. Also capitalize “Eve”.
Christmas. There is no hyphen at Christmas. This part is easy. The question is more difficult: do you put “a” or “a” in front, like “a / a Christmas present”? Answer: It depends on how you pronounce it. If you said “eks-mas”, put “one” in front of it: an eks-mas gift. If you pronounce it “Christmas”, use a: a Christmas present. Either choice is good.
Bryan Garner, author of “Garner’s Modern American Usage,” recently asked his Twitter followers how they would pronounce Christmas. Just over 45% of 676 respondents said they would pronounce it Christmas, while 55% say eks-mas. So you can choose your preference. And, by the way, Christmas is no reason to bicker over religion. The X is not designed, as some say, “to bring Christ out of Christmas”. Instead, the X stands for the Greek letter “chi” – the first letter of Jesus’ name. “X has an ancient history as a symbol of Christ and the cross,” Garner writes.
JUNE CASAGRANDE is the author of “The Joy of Syntax: A Simple Guide to All the Grammar You Know You Should Know”. She can be contacted at [email protected]