Grammar and the winter holidays


One holiday season is behind us, but there’s always another looming. Fortunately, with the exception of the one on February 14, the winter holidays won’t require our shopping skills.

But they may challenge our grammar and spelling. So here’s some help.

The first holiday coming is on Jan. 21, and it’s named after a great civil rights leader. Grammatically speaking, the question regarding this holiday is: Should we use a comma, and if so, where should it go? The answer is yes, use a comma, and put it right after the King, as in Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The next holiday, on Feb. 2, is named after a rodent. The originators chose to call it Groundhog Day, but they could have used other names for the same animal: woodchuck, land-beaver, or even whistle-pig. Note that there’s no apostrophe or s on the end of Groundhog. That’s because the day doesn’t belong to the animal; if the mishandled little pig had its way, I’m sure the holiday would be eliminated.

The subsequent holiday, on Feb. 14, belongs to Saint Valentine, who allegedly performed illegal weddings a few centuries ago. So that holiday does require an apostrophe. It’s officially Saint Valentine’s Day (but it has become acceptable to remove the Saint).

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