Holidays can be very enjoyable, but they can also be extremely confusing.
It’s wonderful to honor parents, heroes, fools and plenty of other people with these special days, but the lack of clarity about how to spell the names and whether or not to use apostrophes drives me crazy.
Here are a few examples and some thoughts on the names.
Mother’s Day – Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day, specifically noted that the name should be a singular mother with an apostrophe so that each family could honor its own mother. Since she created the day, she certainly can call it whatever she wants. I would argue, though, that plenty of families today have mothers and stepmothers, so I am not sure it is completely accurate.
Father’s Day – Similar to Mother’s Day, it honors a singular father with an apostrophe. It is also designed for each family to celebrate the father in that family. If you read the definitions online, though, they call for celebrating fathers and father figures in families, which would indicate that you are honoring more than one father, which means that maybe it should be plural. As a father, though, I hate sharing credit for anything, so I am fine with keeping it singular.
Grandparents Day – It is plural, which makes sense, but for some reason it is not possessive. Why don’t grandparents merit owning a day like parents do? Does this mean that the day is named after them but it is not their day? It’s just another example of the lack of respect for elders!
Veterans Day – A day to honor all veterans, plural, but it also does not receive an apostrophe for some reason. The only rationale I can come up with is that it is a day for everyone to think of and to honor veterans, so it is everyone’s day to honor veterans.
April Fools’ Day – Wait a minute? Grandparents and veterans don’t receive apostrophes but fools do? Why is that? They don’t even want the day. No one wants to be an April Fool. And is April Fool a title that should be capitalized? It seems like it should be since the day is capitalized.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day – It is the eve of the new year and the first day of the year, so I can see why it is singular and possessive.
Christmas Eve – So why isn’t Christmas possessive here, too? If New Year’s Eve is correct, shouldn’t it be Christmas’ Eve?
Valentine’s Day – A day to honor just one valentine, even though children often give cards to all of their classmates. I made some sweet Valentine’s Day card boxes back in the day. Why can’t this day be plural? And why does it receive an apostrophe?
Presidents Day – So valentines and fools get apostrophes but not presidents? I don’t think they all deserve it, but it doesn’t make any sense (much like several of our presidents). Just to make this even more confusing, some style books refer to it as Presidents’ Day and there seems to be a lot of confusion over this one. The AP Style calls it Presidents Day, so I am saying that it the main spelling.
Earth Day – This is even worse! Why doesn’t the day belong to Earth? So we can celebrate the moon every week (Mondays), but we only celebrate the Earth once a year and it doesn’t even deserve an apostrophe? It’s just another example of a lack of respect for the Earth. No wonder we have climate change!
Seward’s Day – I had no idea that Alaska celebrated this day to commemorate the purchase of Alaska from Russia and honor William Seward for his role in the purchase. It seems like a sensible holiday and he definitely earned the apostrophe.
Columbus Day – So Seward receives an apostrophe but not Columbus? Why not Columbus’ Day? And when can we eliminate this holiday anyway?
Patriot’s Day and Patriots’ Day – Celebrated in Massachusetts and Maine, there is apparently disagreement on if the day is honoring one or many patriots. If I am reading online correctly, Maine honors one singular patriot while Massachusetts honors plural patriots. It makes no sense. Also, why do patriots receive an apostrophe but veterans do not?
Groundhog Day – If any holiday deserves an apostrophe, it is definitely Groundhog Day, or as it should be, Groundhog’s Day. The whole day is about a groundhog! And they get very little attention the rest of the year, except for when they are in your yard. We used to have a groundhog trap, or rather a groundhog’s trap. My son loved catching groundhogs (that’s true by the way).
Boss’s Day – This is an outrage! Why is it singular? Why is it possessive? Does the fact that I have multiple bosses make it so that I don’t have to participate in this singular boss day?
Game Night – Many families and friends have regular Game Nights, but I argue that they often play more than one game, so it should at least be Games Night, and probably Games’ Night. This may be why I am rarely invited to Game Night.
Super Bowl Sunday – If April Fools’ Day receives an apostrophe, then it definitely should be Super Bowl’s Sunday.
Drummers’ Day – This is not a holiday (yet), but my friend Dan Boggs is pushing for it to be a holiday soon. I am currently referring to it as Boggs’ Drummers’ Day. And, of course, if you want to refer to the night before, it’s Boggs’ Drummers’ Day’s Eve, which makes me happy because it has so many apostrophes. And whose idea was it to write about apostrophes? It was Nick’s.
Do you have any other examples or thoughts on annoying holiday names? Feel free to share them below. Thanks!