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Is It New Year, New Year’s, or New Years? How to Write a Happy New Year Message

Updated on December 18, 2023GrammarWriting Tips

Marking the passage of time is important. It helps us stay connected to loved ones and make sure that we’re making progress on our goals. But when it comes to writing New Year messages, it can be difficult to know exactly how to punctuate or even spell the phrase, thanks to some often-forgotten grammatical rules. And that can put a damper on your desire to send the people in your life a New Year message.

As we approach the new year, here’s everything you need to know to write a confident New Year message.

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What is a New Year message?

A New Year message is a note that conveys well-wishes on the occasion of the end of one year and the beginning of the next. New Year messages can come in many forms, such as an email, card, or text message, and are generally short (think: a sentence or two.)

When to use New Year

When referring to the holiday, you should capitalize each word. So, when you send a card for the occasion or a text message at midnight on December 31, you’d write Happy New Year! because you’re acknowledging the holiday.

  • Happy New Year, Mom!
  • Have fun at the New Year celebration.

When to use new year

The phrase “new year” should be used when you’re referring to the year ahead (so in this case, 2024), rather than the holiday.

Here are a few examples that use this correctly:

When to use New Year’s

The phrase “New Year’s” should be used as a modifier when you’re talking specifically about either December 31 or January 1. Here, you’re using the possessive apostrophe to refer to a specific day that “belongs” to the holiday. The apostrophe-s shows that relationship.

For example:

  • New Year’s Eve (December 31)
  • New Year’s Day (January 1)

But this form of the phrase can also refer to anything else that “belongs” to the holiday:

  • New Year’s party: The party is for the holiday, so you need to add an apostrophe-s.
  • New Year’s resolution: The resolution is in honor of the holiday, so the apostrophe-s applies.

You should capitalize “new year” since you’re specifically referring to the holiday, rather than simply the concept of a new year. And since eve and day are part of the name of these holidays, you capitalize those words as well.

When should you use new years?

Simply, new years is always grammatically incorrect; you need an apostrophe to show that whatever you’re talking about belongs to the holiday. So while the phrases New Years and New Year’s sound the same when spoken aloud, the apostrophe marks the correct spelling.

For example:

 Happy New Years Eve! 

 Happy New Year’s Eve! 

 This New Years Day, I will focus on wellness. 

 This New Year’s Day, I will focus on wellness. 

Again, since you’re talking about the holiday (rather than the moment the clock strikes midnight), you also need to capitalize each word in the phrase “new year” as well as “day” or “eve.”

S used in other holiday names

Several other holidays also end in s, and in those cases, you may come across similar questions of when (and where) to add an apostrophe. Here are some quick guidelines to help you write them correctly:

  • Veterans Day: This day is in honor of all veterans, so you wouldn’t use an apostrophe to show the concept of the day belonging to anyone. Veterans Day is a day for veterans (it doesn’t belong to them), whereas New Year’s Day is the day of the new year (it does belong to the new year). For reference, Veteran’s Day or Veterans’ Day would be incorrect.
  • Presidents’ Day: This day celebrates former President Washington’s birthday, but it belongs to all presidents. Because of this, you’d need that apostrophe at the end to show the belonging as well as the plurality of “presidents.” (New Year’s Day refers to a day that belongs to a single, specific event, but Presidents’ Day is a day that belongs to all presidents.)
  • Mother’s Day/Father’s Day: Although they seem to apply to all mothers or fathers, the idea is that these days belong to each person’s individual mother or father. Like New Year’s Day or Eve, the apostrophe shows that relationship to the subject (a mother or a father).

New Year FAQs

What is the correct way to wish someone a happy new year?

You should say or write, Happy New Year! to wish them well in that situation. This refers to a single moment in time, so you wouldn’t pluralize it. (For instance, Happy New Years would be incorrect.)

What is the difference between happy new year’s and happy new years?

The phrase happy new year’s is part of what you’d say when you’re talking about either December 31 or January 1 (as in Happy New Year’s Eve or Happy New Year’s Day). The phrase happy new years, however, is always incorrect; you need an apostrophe to show the relationship to the holiday.

What other holidays end with an s?

Several other holidays also end with an s, including Veterans Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Presidents’ Day.

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