Happy Holidays

by Cherie Tucker

We’ve already examined the mysteries of apostrophe placement, so this is just a little reminder because we have so many holidays coming up that totally confound advertisers.

You’ll see all sorts of interesting apostrophes floating about or missing entirely as 2009 progresses, so let’s examine them one at a time.
First, the holiday is New Year’s Day (or New Year’s Eve). Even if the words Day or Eve are left off, they are implied, so you must use the apostrophe.  The word Year is not plural—we only get one new one annually.
Next up is Valentine’s Day. That heart-shaped card is a valentine.  If you get more than one of them, you received valentines.  The day, however, belongs to St. Valentine, so you need the apostrophe before the s.
Two days later we honor all of our Presidents.  The holiday used to be just for Washington’s birthday on the 22nd, with a glancing nod to Lincoln on the 12th.  Then, when they made all those three-day weekends, they combined all Presidential birthdays into one glorious Monday, now known as Presidents’ Day.  You will see the apostrophe before the s or find it left out in more ads than you will see it placed correctly, but we are honoring all the Presidents, so the apostrophe belongs at the end.
The days to honor Mother and Father have become just that.  We are not honoring the group but the concept, so those are written Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
As with St. Valentine, so with St. Patrick.  There was only one, and the day is his:  St. Patrick’s Day.  The apostrophe goes before the s.
The last holiday with an is Veterans Day.  Sadly the important apostrophe that should reside after the s to show that this day is for all who served was officially removed in the 1950s by our very own government.  Perhaps it was to save money.  I’m sure no one would mind if you put it back in.  Pretend it’s a thank you.

Cherie Tucker, owner of GrammarWorks, has taught writing basics to professionals since 1987, presenting at the PNWA conference.  She currently teaches Practical Grammar for Editors at the University of Washington’s Editing Certification program and edits as well.  GrammarWorks@msn.com

Cherie TuckerComment