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Happy Beatles Day! (Or Is It Beatles' Day?)

January 16, 2014

"All you need is love." —the Beatles

One of the most popular bands of all time undoubtedly deserves its own holiday. In 2001, UNESCO declared January 16th to be "Beatles Day." And as with most holidays in English, it's tough to figure out the correct capitalization and punctuation of the holiday name!


For all major holidays in English, we capitalize the word "Day." Examples include Valentine's Day, Christmas Day, Canada Day, and Independence Day. It follows that the word "day" in Beatles Day should also be capitalized. What about the word "month"? I was just discussing this with our head writer, Tara Benwell, as we were preparing our Eye Idioms poster for Eye Care Awareness Month. I believe that "month" should follow the same rules as "day" for holidays, and therefore be capitalized.


Should it be Beatles Day or Beatles' Day? Is it possessive (the day that belongs to the Beatles, so Beatles' Day) or not (a day about the Beatles, so Beatles Day)? Technically, both are correct. And unfortunately, if we look at other common holidays, we get a mix of possessive and non-possessive (think of Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day, but Christmas Day and Martin Luther King Day). First, I check the dictionary (I use for American English and for British English). If the holiday isn't listed, as in this case, then I go by what the organization or government body that formed the holiday has chosen (a Google search should show you that, or at least show you which way is more common). Beatles Day it is!


This holiday is a great chance for teachers to incorporate some music into the classroom! Turning a song into a cloze exercise is an activity that always goes over well. Google the lyrics to your favorite Beatles' song, white out some of the lyrics, and voilà! You have a listening activity that your students will love. (Did you notice that "Beatles' song" must be written with the apostrophe? In this case, it is possessive, meaning a song by the Beatles.)


Now is a great time to check out our Famous People lessons on the Beatles and John Lennon! These lessons each include a reading, vocabulary exercises, and discussion questions about "the Fab Four."

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