AP’s Holiday Style Guide

If you’re going to write about the holidays then please be sure to follow the AP holiday style guide.

Advent
The four Sundays preceding Christmas.

“Auld Lang Syne”
Sung to greet the New Year, poem by Robert Burns set to Scottish music.

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) –
Dateline for AP stories from the biblical site of Jesus’ birth.

Bible
Capitalize in reference to the Scriptures; lowercase biblical in all uses.

Boxing Day
Post-Christmas holiday Dec. 26 In British Commonwealth countries.

Champagne
Capitalize sparkling wine from the French region uncorked to celebrate New Year’s.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day
Capitalize Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 Christian feast marking the birth of Jesus.

Christmastime
One word.

Christmas tree
Lowercase tree and other seasonal terms with Christmas: card, wreath, carol, etc. Exception: National Christmas Tree.

dreidel
Toy spinning top for Jewish celebrations.

hallelujah
Lowercase the biblical praise to God, but capitalize in composition titles: Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus.

Hanukkah
Eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights starting Dec. 20 this year.

Jesus, Jesus Christ
Pronouns referring to him are lowercase, as is savior.

happy holidays, merry Christmas, season’s greetings
Such phrases are generally spelled lowercase, though Christmas is always capitalized.

Holy Land
Capitalize the biblical region.

Kriss Kringle
Not Kris. Derived from the German word, Christkindl, or baby Jesus.

Kwanzaa
African-American and Pan-African celebration of family, community and culture, Dec. 26-Jan. 1.

Magi
Three wise men who brought gifts to the infant Jesus at Epiphany, celebrated Jan. 6.

menorah
Candelabrum with nine branches used for Hanukkah.

Messiah
Capitalized in references to Jesus or to the promised deliverer in Judaism.

Nativity scene
Only the first word is capitalized.

New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day
Capitalized for Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

North Pole
Mythical home of Santa Claus.

Poinsettia
Decorative plant for Christmas; note the “ia.”

regifting
Passing along an unwanted present to someone else.

Santa Claus
Brings toys to children in a sleigh pulled by reindeer on Christmas Eve.

“A Visit From St. Nicholas”
Beloved poem by Clement Clarke Moore that begins, “ ‘Twas the night before Christmas …”

“The Twelve Days of Christmas”
Spell the numeral in the Christmas carol.

yule
Old English name for Christmas season; yuletide is also lowercase.

Xmas
Don’t use this abbreviation for Christmas.

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