Grammar Grappler 2: Presidents Day, President’s Day, Presidents’ Day

Behind-the-scenes note: I write on Monday and publish on Wednesday, so I’m penning this on the third Monday in February, otherwise known as Presidents’ Day. Or is it Presidents Day? Or President’s Day.

Which is correct?

On the television series Psych, Shawn always joked with Gus that “I’ve heard it both ways: your way and the right way.” However, it’s not that simple with this holiday originally established to celebrate President George Washington’s birthday.

My daily planner and calendar label it as Presidents’ Day. Numerous advertisements for sales at local furniture stores call it Presidents Day. So, I turned to the four writing style guides I keep within arm’s reach in my office. Even the style guides differ.

The AP Stylebook – With specific holidays, I usually default to The AP Stylebook, which advises writers to use the plural version of Presidents Day.

Franklin Covey Style Guide for Business and Technical Communication – My beloved Franklin Covey Style Guide doesn’t address it specifically.

The Gregg Reference Manual – This thorough resource lists it as the plural possessive Presidents’ Day.

The Chicago Manual of Style – This guide also uses Presidents’ Day.

All four style guides do agree, however, that because it is a specific holiday, it should always be capitalized.

My verdict? I’ve always written it as Presidents’ Day.


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