How to capitalize holiday greetings

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Posted: 
November 18, 2019
Written by: Josephine Versace , Language Portal of Canada

Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, if you’re sending out holiday greetings this year, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the correct capitalization. Here’s all you need to know to make your greetings letter-perfect!

Season’s greetings / Compliments of the season

Don’t capitalize “greetings” in “Season’s greetings.” It’s the first word, “season’s,” that may sometimes need a capital.

Capitalize the word “season’s” when you use “Season’s greetings” by itself:

Season’s greetings!

But don’t capitalize “season’s” when it falls in the middle of a sentence or phrase:

Sending you season’s greetings,
The Liskas

Also, note that it’s “season’s” (with an apostrophe and an “s”), not the plural “seasons.” The possessive form is needed because “season’s greetings” stands for “greetings of the season.”

A similar greeting, “compliments of the season,” follows the same rule. Capitalize the first word (in this case, “compliments”) if the greeting is used by itself, but not if it appears in the middle of a sentence or phrase:

Compliments of the season!
Our compliments of the season to you and your family!

And remember that what you’re extending to others is “compliments” (with an “i"), not its homonym, “complements.”

Happy holidays

As with the greetings above, capitalize the first word, “happy,” when you use “Happy holidays” on its own:

Happy holidays!

But lower-case “happy” when it is used midway through a sentence or phrase:

We hope you have happy holidays!
Wishing you happy holidays!

Note that no capital is used for “holidays” in either case. The same is true, of course, of the word “holiday” in the singular:

We wish you all the joy of the holiday season!

Greetings for specific holidays

Always capitalize the names of specific holidays like “Hanukkah,” “Christmas,” “Kwanzaa” and “New Year’s Day” (or “New Year’s,” for short), regardless of their position in a sentence, because they’re proper nouns.

The same is true of “New Year” when it refers to New Year’s Day. But don't capitalize “new year” when referring to the actual year:

We wish you all the best in the new year!
Let’s get together in the new year!

In greetings for specific holidays, capitalize the first word (usually “happy” or “merry”) when the greeting appears alone:

Happy Hanukkah!
Merry Christmas!
Happy Kwanzaa!
Happy New Year!

But when positioned in the middle of a sentence or phrase, “happy” or “merry” should be lower-cased:

Wishing you a happy Hanukkah!
I hope you have a very merry Christmas!
We wish you a happy Kwanzaa!
Have a happy New Year!

Now that you’ve read these guidelines on capitalizing greetings, you can send out your cards and letters with confidence and start the holidays off right!

And on that note, I wish you a happy holiday season and all the best in the new year!

Disclaimer

The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.

About the author

Josephine Versace

Josephine has worn many hats in her career as a language professional. She has worked as a translator, editor, writer, reviser and now as a language analyst for the Language Portal of Canada. In addition to English and French, she speaks Italian and dabbles in Spanish. She enjoys communicating with people through her work on the Portal.

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