Do You Capitalize Holidays? When To Capitalize Holidays

do you capitalize holidays

It has become quite common that people unconsciously make small erroneous grammatical mistakes when typing their documents. A common example of this is when a person inquires about capitalizing holidays. When to capitalize holidays while writing a sentence? Well, the answer is:

When writing a sentence, holidays will always be capitalized regardless of where they are used in a sentence. These are proper nouns that have a specific name and in grammar, the first letter of all proper nouns is always capitalized in a sentence.  

Generally, people tend to forget such rules when they are under stress or workload tensions that they make such types of grammatical errors. So, we will explain the rules for capitalizing the term in a manner that you won’t forget. Also, we will be going into the details with the exception of the above rule and various illustrations.  

happy holidays sign with capital and lower case letters

Is There Any Case When Holidays Aren’t Capitalized When Used In A Sentence?

At times, you might ask yourself if you capitalize holidays. When to capitalize holidays in case it is used differently in a sentence? Well, if we think of a case in which holidays aren’t capitalized, it won’t be possible. An easy logical answer is that each and every holiday has a certain or specific purpose for its celebration. So, it means that it is not a common noun used to explicitly explain a general holiday.

For example, if we say “Christmas” it doesn’t explicitly reflect a general term of the holiday rather it directs the attention of others as a specific event with a specific purpose. Easy examples to clear the picture are given below:

  •   I love spending Thanksgiving with my relatives.
  •  Christmas has been a part of the Christian culture as far as anyone can remember.

In the first example, “Thanksgiving” even though it was used as an object still had its first letter capitalized in the sentence. Similarly, in the second example, “Christmas” also had its initial letter capitalized because it was used as a subject and was a proper noun.

Do The Rules Of Capitalization Vary For Terms Other Than Holidays?

There is a whole variety of rules that are completely different which explain all the terms that are and aren’t capitalized in a sentence. Though these rules are a lot, most of them follow the main idea based on which each situation or sentence is easily understood for the capitalization rules. Even if someone questions you, do you capitalize on the holidays. When to capitalize holidays and other terms in a sentence? Then, you can proudly and confidently provide them with an adequate response. It is essential for you to memorize the following main criteria for capitalization:

1.    Initial Letter Of The First Word In A Sentence

The initial letter of the very first word in the sentence is capitalized in every instance. For example, “It is time to start packing for our trip to Australia”. If you notice in this example, you will realize that the initial letter of the first word is capitalized although it is a common noun.

In active and passive voice statements, the initial letter of the subject and object will always be capitalized respectively.

2.    Specific Names i.e. Proper Nouns

In order to highlight the specific place or object, the initial character of the proper noun is also capitalized to explicitly showcase specialty from other common words or nouns in a sentence. These, in every case and scenario, are capitalized regardless of their placement in a sentence.

For example, “Billy always has tons of excuses to bunk his chemistry lecture”. In this sentence, the character “B” of the word “Billy” is capitalized as it reflects the special name of the boy.

3.    Use Of “I” In A Sentence

The first-person pronoun in every sentence, regardless of where it is used in a statement, is capitalized every time. In general, “I” is used multiple times in various sentences when you have to explain regarding yourself. For instance, “I went to the beach alone because I wanted to spend some time alone”. In this statement, we illustrated the use of “I” in two different places to highlight that it is capitalized each time.

4.    The Direction Of A Compass

Different directions of a compass such as East, North, West, and South are always capitalized when they are used in a sentence. It is important to highlight that even though they are a part of the proper noun category but still we mentioned them here to clarify the idea. For example, “I will fly to Southern California in the upcoming season”.

5.    The Initial Letter Inside A Quoted Sentence

Every quoted sentence’s first word’s initial letter is capitalized as it is considered as a new sentence. For example,

  • Jessica informed me, “Janice loves to meddle in my affairs.”

You might notice in this example that the sentence present in the quotation marks is highlighting a statement as stated directly by the other person. This clearly states a new sentence, one that is different from the original context of the statement itself. Thus, it is always capitalized as stated above in point 1.

Cumulatively all these types of rules for capitalization of terms tend to stretch out to longer lengths but mainly they all fall under these categories for easy understanding. While having such type of understanding, it is hard for anyone to question that do you capitalize holidays. When to capitalize holidays and other various terms that are directly impacted by the rules for capitalization. 

holiday gifts banner wide

Are There Possible Exceptions To The Rules Of Capitalization Of Terms And Holidays?

It may be possible for you to assume that all the mentioned rules for capitalization are absolute and won’t have any secondary outcome in case of a change in scenario. Other than the fact that do you capitalize holidays; when to capitalize holidays is now a question properly answered before. However, regarding other terms, the same can’t be said as in different scenarios the rules may vary accordingly.

1.    Common Nouns Implying Specific Purpose, Name, Or Thing

Sometimes, it can be very much possible that certain common nouns used could imply a specific individual or thing. It can be determined by this understanding that the common noun is giving direct reference to the proper noun even if the proper noun itself is or isn’t being used in the sentence. This is known as personification. For example,

  • The Governor of Nevada is about to make his final speech before resigning.
  • I think that James should help Mom with her groceries.  

In both examples, the proper noun such as the specific name of “Governor of Nevada” and “Mom” was missing. However, their use gave a clear reference to the proper noun that was implicitly mentioned. Hence, the initial letter of such common nouns must be capitalized.

2.    Non-Capitalization Of Seasons

People misunderstand this fact that seasons are proper nouns but the truth is they are treated as common nouns and so they are not capitalized in the sentence. Seasons can only be capitalized if they are used in the aspect of personification otherwise they won’t be capitalized in a sentence. For example, “I get pollen allergy in the spring season”. In this example, the word “spring” isn’t used in the aspect of personification. Hence, it is not capitalized.

These major exceptions are the cases when other terms can or can’t be capitalized. Except for the capitalization of holidays that are always capitalized in each sentence.

List Of Examples For The Capitalization Of Holidays

Following are a few examples in which the holidays are capitalized due to their subject use:

  • Easter is a time to reunite with your loved ones.
  • Thanksgiving made me realize that I had more things to be grateful for.

In both of the examples, the holidays “Easter” and “Thanksgiving” were used as the subject so the very first letter of them was capitalized.

Sometimes, these holidays will be followed by another noun. In such circumstances, these nouns must also be capitalized. For instance,

  • I am so glad that everyone got the time out to get together on Christmas Day.
  • You should stuff the turkey as part of the tradition of Thanksgiving Day.

The above examples clearly showed that the initial letters of the holidays are capitalized but along with that, the common noun “day” is also capitalized with them as the common noun now gave implicit meaning to a specific day which is the holiday itself.

happy holidays in different languages

So, Does It Mean That The Holidays Will Be Capitalized In Every Circumstance?

The answer is yes because in each sentence, no matter where and how the holidays are used in the sentence, they will be capitalized. 

Also, the social importance of holidays and the celebration they entail makes them a word worthy of capitalization. This way the relevance of the time or the season is highlighted when seen in writing.

With this knowledge, you can now confidently respond to anyone who asks do you capitalize holidays; when to capitalize holidays in different contexts of the sentences.  

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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