The phantom apostrophe

It’s February 21st, which means I’m jealous of every government employee in the nation who doesn’t have to bother with going to work today. While they are (surely) still sleeping soundly, I am awake and should be getting ready to head to the office. Instead, I’m sitting on my couch with a cup of coffee and contemplating the ultimate question: Is it Presidents’ Day, President’s Day, or Presidents Day?

According to the dictionary, the correct way of writing it is Presidents’ Day, since it is meant to commemorate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Then again, the entry on dictionary.com (my source) also failed to capitalize George Washington’s name–first AND last–so they deserve very little credit.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (government website) lists the 2011 Federal Holidays; however, according to their calendar, February 21st is simply Washington’s Birthday instead of Presidents Day with any form of an apostrophe. In this case, it should be President’s Day if we’re only commemorating Washington.

Personally, I’ve always viewed February 21st as a day to honor multiple presidents. Having said that, I’m sure my day will be filled with Presidents’ Days, President’s Days, and Presidents Days alike. That phantom apostrophe just can’t seem to make up its mind.

3 thoughts on “The phantom apostrophe

  1. Maybe the solution would be to completely bypass the apostrophe and rename today: The Day of the Presidents.

    Anyone who then disputes the “s” at the end would be effectively suggesting that 21. February is the day to honour the current US President (or is that: US president?)

  2. I was always told it was Washington’s & Lincoln’s birthdays, so I assumed it was Presidents’ Day, short for “The Famous Presidents’ Birthdays”. Of course, you know what happens when you assume. Great post, very thoughtful!

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