Happy holidays! Or is it holiday?
With season’s greetings being shared so often throughout this time of year, it can be hard to remember whether you should write and say holiday or holidays. You want to spread cheer through every card you send and to every person you pass on the street.
Yet a grammar snafu can really dampen your seasonal spirits.
Spread your holiday cheer over the holidays correctly with confidence by following these simple holiday grammar rules.
Holiday vs Holidays
Holiday, without an S, is a singular noun that generally refers to a specific celebrated event or day. You say the word holiday because it’s a commonly recognized day of celebration.
Here are some examples:
Because Monday is a public holiday, the library will be closed.
How do you celebrate the holiday season?
Holiday also refers to taking a vacation or a trip away from home, be it during a time of shared celebration or not.
It’s usually phrased like this:
I’ll need a holiday after I finish this presentation for work.
They booked a holiday online to France and Spain next month.
We met Jan and Frank while on holiday last year.
Holidays, with an S, is a plural noun that refers to a specific span of celebrated time that’s often socially recognized. In terms of celebration, the word holidays usually refers to the Christmas season or all the days celebrated during the month of December, but it could also reference the period between academic terms.
Confused yet? Read these examples:
Better save money now for the holidays!
Are you visiting your family over the holidays?
Holidays also can reference taking multiple trips or vacations away from home any time of the year.
We spend our holidays every year at our cabin up north.
Sue always joins them on their holidays, no matter where they travel.
Happy Holiday vs Happy Holidays
Happy holidays is both a written and spoken greeting commonly used before or during the holiday season. You use the plural form because you’re wishing happiness upon someone for a span of time instead of on one specific celebrated day.
To put it simply:
Happy holiday, although less commonly used, can be used not as a greeting but in a sentence where you want to wish happiness upon someone on a specific celebrated day.
Here’s how you can use the phrase correctly:
I hope you have a happy holiday!
When Do You Capitalize Holiday or Holidays?
The words holiday and holidays do not reference a specific day of celebration like the words Christmas or Thanksgiving or Halloween. Therefore, you do not capitalize holiday or holidays, even when paired in a sentence with a specific holiday.
These examples illustrate my point:
We traveled to Memphis for the Christmas holidays.
Happy holidays to you and your family!
There is an exception. You’ll often find the phrase Happy Holidays capitalized as a standalone phrase on seasonal cards because it then follows the rules of capitalization for titles or headers.