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Grammar Tips & Tidbits

 

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Apostrophe Placement in Holiday Names

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season filled with fun and festivities.

I'd like to begin this issue of Grammar Tips & Tidbits by thanking you for sticking with me during my recent hiatus. During the past two months, I made a long-distance move and was thrown into holiday mode immediately afterward. I'm finally getting settled into a new home in a new city, and I'm looking forward to seeing what 2008 has in store.

Speaking of the new year, do you know where to place the apostrophe in New Years Day?

(a) New Years Day
(b) New Year's Day
(c) New Years' Day

If you chose (b) New Year's Day, you're correct. But what about all those other holidays with apostrophes in their names?

I wish I had better news, but there is absolutely no consistency when it comes to apostrophe placement in holiday names, at least in the United States. Since there appears to be no rhyme or reason, I'm simply going to give you the holiday list straight from the 10th edition of The Gregg Reference Manual

Apostrophe before the s:
●   New Year's Eve/Day
●   Lincoln's Birthday
●   Valentine's Day
●   Saint Patrick's Day
●   Mother's Day
●   Father's Day

Apostrophe after the s:
●   Presidents' Day
●   April Fools' Day
●   All Saints' Day

No apostrophe:
●   Veterans Day
●   Armed Forces Day
●   United Nations Day
●   Administrative Professionals Day

See what I mean? There's no method to the madness! The good news is that you can give your mind a rest by bookmarking this page. That way you can refer to this quirky list when the next holiday comes around. No need to commit the rules to memory when someone apparently forgot to make the rules in the first place!

 

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Source:

1. Sabin, William A. The Gregg Reference Manual. 10th ed.
        (New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2005), p. 192.