poorly placed holiday apostrophes

Yesterday I mentioned my frustration with (what should be known as) Mothers’ Day being touted as Mother’s Day.  That’s just wrong.  Now, in that day belonging to Saint Patrick, the apostrophe shall come before the “s.”  The same with Lincoln’s Birthday. But when our intent is to celebrate mothers everywhere (plural), clearly the holiday should be referred to as Mothers’ Day.  On this I will not budge.


“So,” I thought to myself, “how many of our other holidays have been ruined by poor punctuation?”  Well…here’s a list* to at least get us started:

  • Fathers’ Day — Of course.
  • Valentines’ Day — Admittedly, this holiday was originally named for Saint Valentine (rightfully making it Valentine’s Day), however we no longer seem to use it this way (as we’ve dropped the “Saint” and refer to romantic interests as our “valentines”).  It’s also understandable that we’d use the singular valentine in that, presumably, most people celebrate this holiday with only one valentine.**  All of this said, though, I’m leaving the holiday where I’ve placed it.
  • April Fools’ Day — While the public seems to be 50/50 on where to place the apostrophe in the day which commemorates trickery, I had to include it because… well, how great is it to think about everyone in the United States celebrating the life of one very bumbling idiot.  Yeah, that would make an especially interesting holiday.
  • Patriots’ Day — What?!  You thought this list was only going to include holidays we actually celebrate?
  • Veterans’ Day — I’m not sure of their reasoning, but most people celebrating (the holiday formerly known as) Armistice Day  leave the apostrophe out altogether.
  • Bosses’ Day — Thanks to AmberO for submitting the day on which we pay tribute to those who sign our checks.  You know, this one gets the Brett Harrison Award for Most People Getting It Wrong.  There are very few of us willing to add two letters AND move an apostrophe in order to make a holiday word plural.
  • Secretaries’ Day — Call me old-fashioned, but is Administrative Professionals’ Day really an improvement?
  • Good’s Friday — How upset would Mr. Good be, after all, if he were still alive to see us use his name as if it were merely a commonplace adjective?  How dare we drop both an apostrophe and an ‘s.’


Where we’ve — more or less — gotten it right:

  • Presidents’ Day — It’s surprising how often this one is listed without any apostrophe at all, but its usage generally includes an after apostrophe.
  • All Saints’ Day — Yeah, it’s a lot easier for people to get correct when you throw the word “all” in front.  Perhaps we should celebrate “All Mothers’ Day,” “All April Fools’ Day,” or “All Cotton Candy Lovers’ Day.”***
  • National Doctors’ Day — This one made the list based on its**** proper use of punctuation.  However, I do find the word “national” to be quite superfluous.  It makes it sound as if we’re only honoring those doctors who work for the government.  Perhaps this comes with healthcare reform?  Or it could merely be a remnant of our country’s communist origins?   [Also, do we really need to pay tribute on a given day to those working in an occupation which is praised every day?]


What other holidays should have made one list or the other?  Do you have a special punctuation pet peeve?  [My other one has to do with the serial comma: my favorite animals, the oxford comma and you.]

*My observations are based merely upon popular usage — as determined by a few quick — and quite unscientific — google searches.

**I know, I know… you say it’s the same with Mothers’ Day.  Not true.  It is common for an individual to, on Mothers’ Day, recognize his mother, mother-in-law, step-mother, wife, and maybe even grandmother.  Also, he’s likely to tell his friends who are mothers, “Happy Mothers’ Day.”  Entire churches honor all of the mothers present on this great Sunday in May — as do restaurants who want their money.  But rarely does an individual celebrate more than one person on Valentines’ Day.  I still hold, though, that valentines should indeed be plural.

***Hey, as long as we’re making up holidays and putting it to the man….

****Speaking of proper punctuation, please take note at the difference between it’s and its.


Filed under slightly humorous or amusing?

2 responses to “poorly placed holiday apostrophes

  1. Cute post. But more importantly, the updated pic is all kinds of fabulous. Baylor is HANDS DOWN the happiest little girl in the world, and I promise Harper is ready for the world (put her down, I bet she busts a dance move and then challenges you to keep up with her on your morning runs).

    Christie looks great, you look happy. Geita serves you well.

  2. Amy

    If I’m texting, I don’t bother with the apostrophe at all!

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