Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Today's Writing Tip Is about When to Capitalize New Year

Should you capitalize the term new year? Only if it's a proper noun. If you want to wish someone a happy new year, and you make that a declarative sentence, then don't capitalize it.

Proper noun -- Happy New Year to all my writer friends and subscribers!

Simple greeting -- I want to wish all my writer friends and subscribers a very happy new year. (No capitals.)

The same is true of merry Christmas. If I’m referring to someone having a merry Christmas, I'm not going to capitalize it because I could just as easily use any other adjective -- happy Christmas, festive Christmas, sober Christmas. However, if I am using the saying “Merry Christmas,” which is much like a command, then I will use the caps:

Merry Christmas! (Command.)

Have a very merry Christmas. (No caps, except Christmas is always capitalized because it’s a proper noun and an occasion.)

Let's hope that most people are drinking too much eggnog to notice if you make the occasional slip with these terms.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books including Be Your Own Editor, available for free download on from now until December 31.


  1. So is it "Good luck and Merry Christmas" because "Merry Christmas" here is a command even though it doesn't begin the sentence? How about "Good luck and Happy Valentine's Day"?

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi JM, yes, that's exactly how I would write both those sentences. Even though Merry Christmas doesn't start the sentence, it is imperative – a command – so I would capitalize it.

      And Happy Valentine's Day to you! Sigrid


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