How to write these holidays

The new year is here. What better time to learn how to write New Year’s, as well as Presidents Day, Mother’s Day and a full 12 months’ worth of hard-to-write holidays? Here’s your guide to navigating the apostrophes, plurals and capitalization of holidays in 2022.

New Year’s/New Year/new year. When you’re talking about the holiday, New Year, always start with capital letters. “Happy New Year!” If you’re adding the s, put an apostrophe in front of it: “a New Year’s resolution.” When you’re talking in a generic sense about the coming year, lowercase it. “Wishing you health and happiness in the new year.”

New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day. The Eve and the Day are part of the holidays’ proper names, so capitalize them.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The third Monday in January, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is written without “Rev.” or “Dr.” in both Associated Press and Chicago editing styles. No commas needed around “Jr.”

Valentine’s Day. Singular possessive. If you’re talking about your sweetheart or a card you’re sending, you can lowercase the v: Be my valentine. I’m sending a valentine. You can also call the holiday Saint Valentine’s Day.

Presidents Day. There are several correct ways to write this holiday, which falls on the third Monday in February. AP style says no apostrophe: Presidents Day. Chicago style writes it as plural possessive, with the apostrophe after the s: Presidents’ Day. But the federal government and some states now call it Washington’s Birthday. Take your pick.

St. Patrick’s Day. This March 17 holiday is singular possessive, so the apostrophe goes before the s.

April Fools’ Day. Treat this one as plural possessive, with the apostrophe after the s: Fools’. If someone falls for an April Fools’ Day trick, you can call them an April fool with a lowercase f.

Mother’s Day. Logic is useless for figuring out whether holiday names are singular possessive or plural possessive. Case in point: Mother’s Day. Yes, it’s a day to recognize all mothers. But it’s treated as a singular possessive, with the apostrophe before the s. Think of this as the day belonging to the person you can call Mother.

Fourth of July, July Fourth, the Fourth. Publishers spell out the word Fourth and capitalize it, even when it’s a nickname for the holiday: the Fourth. But that’s just because it’s a holiday. Regular dates usually use numerals: July 5, 2022, or July 5th, 2022.

Learn about Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Xmas in my recent column.

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