Is It “Happy Holiday” or “Happy Holidays”?

You may have heard someone saying either “Happy Holiday” or “Happy Holidays” and wondered if there is a difference between the two phrases or if one version should be preferred over the other. Here we discuss both sayings and their meanings to help you gain a better understanding.

Is It “Happy Holiday” Or “Happy Holidays”?

Neither the phrase “Happy Holiday” or “Happy Holidays” is incorrect and both of them would be understood properly in various situations. Depending on where you live, the word “holiday” will take on a different meaning and therefore one phrase may be heard more often over the other.

happy holiday or happy holidays

For example, in British English, the word “holiday” refers to time off for a vacation. Whereas in American English, the word “vacation” is preferred and “holiday” almost always refers to a recognized official government or religious holiday.

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When Should I Use “Happy Holiday”?

You should use “Happy Holiday” in American English if you are speaking to another person who is celebrating the same holiday as yourself and it is a single-day holiday. In British English, you use the phrase “Happy Holiday” to wish someone a good time on their vacation.

Here are some examples of how it might be used in American English:

  • I hope you and your family have a happy holiday celebrating the 4th of July tomorrow!
  • I’ll see you after Thanksgiving. Hope you have a happy holiday!

Here are a few examples that show how it would typically be used in British English:

  • I heard you were traveling to France for a few weeks-I hope you have a happy holiday while you’re there!
  • Have a happy holiday while you’re off from work next week. Someone told me that you were going to be traveling to Spain.

See how in the American English examples, the “holiday” being referred to is a single-day recognized holiday. However, in the British English examples, the “holiday” being referred to is a trip to somewhere else that is a vacation and lasts more than one day (even though the word holiday is technically singular).

When Should I Use “Happy Holidays”?

The phrase “Happy Holidays” is idiomatic in American English and is typically used as a friendly greeting to designate the time between Christmas and New Year’s as there are several holidays that fall within this time frame and one may not know which ones the other is celebrating.

This phrase is not idiomatic in British English and although it would be understood by someone who speaks it, it would be considered an Americanized phrase.

In American English, you will also see this phrase as a stand-alone one on greeting cards, etc. during the months of November/December, when several holidays take place.

Here are some examples of how you might see the phrase used in American English:

  • Happy holidays to you and your family! I will see you in the new year!
  • We hope that you all have very happy holidays and celebrate with those that you love.

Is “Have A Happy Holidays” Grammatically Correct?

The phrase “Have A Happy Holidays” is not grammatically correct. The reason is that the word “a” is an indefinite article that proceeds and designates a singular noun, whereas, the noun “holidays” is a plural noun and plural nouns cannot be preceded by the word “a”.

A better way to say this phrase would be to remove the words “Have a” and simply say “Happy Holidays.” This version of the phrase is the most accepted and frequently used one in the English Language.

If you wanted to use the words “Have a” you would have to change the word “holidays” to “holiday” and say the phrase “Have a happy holiday” instead.

Is “Happy Holiday” Or “Happy Holidays” Used The Most?

Both of the phrases “happy holiday” and “happy holidays” are used consistently in the English Language, but the phrase “happy holiday” is the one that is used the most and has been throughout history.

The Google Ngram Viewer here shows the usage of the two phrases from the 1800s until today. As you can see, the phrase “happy holiday” was always the preferred version. This fact is most likely because this phrase would be understood in both British English and American English, whereas “happy holidays” is primarily used in American English.

happy holiday or happy holidays english usage

Are “Happy Holiday” And “Happy Holidays” Used Differently In The UK And The US?

In both American English and British English, the phrase “happy holiday” is used more often than the phrase “happy holidays,” which suggests that it is the more popular version of the phrase all across the board.

This Google Ngram Viewer shows the usage of the two phrases in American English. You can see that the phrase “happy holidays” historically had quite a low usage until about the mid-1980s when it started to become more popular. However, even then, its usage always remained less than “happy holiday.”

happy holiday or happy holidays American English

In this Google Ngram Viewer, you see the trends of the two phrases in British English. Surprisingly, “happy holidays” had more consistent usage throughout history than in American English, even though it is considered an idiomatic American phrase, although “happy holiday” always remained the preferred version.

happy holiday or happy holidays British English

Is It Ever Correct To Use “Happy Holiday’s”?

It is never correct to use “happy holiday’s” because the apostrophe before the “s” indicates that the word is possessive and belongs to someone or something and that could not be the case for a holiday. Therefore, the phrase “happy holidays” should never have an apostrophe before the “s” at the end of the word.

If you write the phrase this way it will automatically be called out as bad grammar and considered to be incorrect and meaningless.

Is “Happy Holiday” And “Happy Holidays” Capitalized?

You will often see “Happy Holiday” and “Happy Holidays” capitalized all of the time and it is a generally accepted format. However, if the phrase is used in the middle of a sentence, proper grammar rules dictate that neither word is capitalized since it is not a proper noun.

For a word to be capitalized in the middle of a sentence, it must be a name or a proper noun. Neither the word “happy” nor “holiday” meets this criteria. However, since in the phrase, the word “holiday” is often used to replace a specific holiday like Christmas or Fourth of July, many people capitalize it because it is a stand-in for the actual proper noun.

If used as a salutation or quick-phrase on a greeting card, both words are usually capitalized following the rules for salutations which indicate that both words of the phrase should be capitalized. Therefore, on the front of a card, you might see “Happy Holidays!” and it would be correct.

If using the phrase in the middle of a sentence, you should follow the proper grammar rules and not capitalize it, however, it generally would be overlooked by most people if you did leave it capitalized.

Both of these sentences would be commonly accepted, even though only the first one has grammatically correct capitalization.

  • I hope you all have a happy holiday and enjoy a much-needed rest from work!
  • I hope you all have a Happy Holiday and enjoy a much-needed rest from work!

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