Holidays, whether religious, secular, or national, are proper nouns and therefore should be capitalized. This includes all national holidays when businesses are closed, such as Columbus Day, and most religious and holy days, such as Hanukkah.
The holiday capitalization rules include whether you use the short or long form of the title. For example, both New Year’s Day and New Year’s are capitalized. This also includes related “eves” such as New Year’s Eve or Halloween Eve.
If you are using the holiday in a title or headline, any proceeding adjectives that are referencing the holiday, such as “Merry Christmas,” are also capitalized.
Here’s a list of some of the most common holidays that are capitalized:
All Saints’ Day
Christmas (also Christmas Day and Christmas Eve)
Coming of Age Day (Japan)
Holocaust Remembrance Day
Holy Thursday, Holy Saturday, Holy Week
Independence Day (US) also the Fourth of July and July Fourth
Labour Day (Canada and other nations)
Martin Luther King Jr. Day (US)
Michaelmas (the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel)
New Year’s (also New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve)
St George’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day (also Saint or St Patrick’s Day)
Thanksgiving (also Thanksgiving Day)
the High Holy Days
Veterans Day (no apostrophe)
Victoria Day (Canada)
Victory Day (Russia)
Do these holiday capitalization rules always hold?
No. As with any rules, there are exceptions. When written in standard text, the following should not be capitalized.
- happy birthday
- happy Thanksgiving
- happy holidays
- happy anniversary
- season’s greetings
- happy or merry Christmas
- happy New Year