Ever been confused as to whether to write “Merry Christmas” or “merry Christmas”? What about “Happy holidays” or “Happy Holidays”? Then take a gander at this definitive holiday style guide from the AP Stylebook.
This guide covers the proper way to capitalize and spell everything holiday-related, so you can feel confident in all your Facebook posts, tweets, texts, and emails. No need to thank me: I can hear the collective sigh of relief.
“Auld Lang Syne”Sung to greet the new year, poem by Robert Burns set to Scottish music.
“Bah! Humbug!” Ebenezer Scrooge’s denunciation of holiday sentiment in “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.
“The Twelve Days of Christmas” Spell the numeral in the Christmas carol.
Advent Period including the four Sundays preceding Christmas.
Boxing Day Post-Christmas holiday Dec. 26 In British Commonwealth countries.
Champagne Capitalize sparkling wine from that French region uncorked to celebrate New Year’s. If made elsewhere, call it sparkling wine.
Christmas tree Lowercase tree and other seasonal terms with Christmas: card, wreath, carol, etc. Exception: National Christmas Tree in Washington.
Christmas, Christmas Day Dec. 25 Christian feast marking the birth of Jesus. Christmas Eve is also capitalized.
Christmastime One word.
dreidel Toy spinning top used in games played during Hanukkah.
Feliz Navidad Traditional Spanish greeting for Christmas.
Grinch Spoilsport who steals holiday fun, based on the title character in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” by Dr. Seuss.
hallelujah Lowercase the biblical praise to God, but capitalize in composition titles: Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus.
Hanukkah Eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights starting Dec. 24 this year.
happy holidays, merry Christmas, season’s greetings, happy birthday, happy new year Lowercase except in exclamations (Christmas is always capitalized): Have a happy new year, wishing you a merry Christmas, sending season’s greetings your way. In exclamations: Happy holidays! Merry Christmas! Season’s greetings! Happy New Year! (New Year is up in this use for the Jan. 1 holiday.)
New Year’s Eve, New Year’s, New Year’s Day, Happy New Year Capitalize for the days of Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 and in exclamations. But lowercase general references to the coming year: What will the new year bring?
Holy Land Capitalize the biblical region.
Jesus, Jesus Christ Pronouns referring to him are lowercase, as is savior.
Kriss Kringle Not Kris. Derived from the German word Christkindl, or baby Jesus.
Kwanzaa African-American and Pan-African celebration of family, community and culture, Dec. 26-Jan. 1.
Lunar New Year The most important holiday in several East Asian countries, marking the start of the Chinese lunar calendar. The holiday starts anytime from mid-January to mid-February depending on the year (Jan. 28 in 2017).
Mawlid al-Nabi Holiday celebrating the birthday of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad. It is marked in many Muslim countries, though not all, as a public holiday, and families often celebrate with special sweets. Observed this year on Dec. 11.
menorah The seven-branch candelabrum from the ancient temple in Jerusalem. Also the popular term for the nine-branch candelabrum, or hanukkiah, used on the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
mistletoe A yellowish evergreen hung as a Christmas decoration; by tradition, people kiss when standing under a sprig.
Nativity scene Only the first word is capitalized.
New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day Capitalized for Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.
noel A Christmas carol, borrowed from the French word for Christmas, which is capitalized.
North Pole Mythical home of Santa Claus.
Santa Claus Brings toys to children in a sleigh pulled by reindeer on Christmas Eve.
Twelfth Night The evening before the Twelfth Day, Jan. 6, that traditionally ends the Christmas season.
Xmas Don’t use this abbreviation for Christmas.
Yule, Yuletide Old English for Christmas season.