There’s nothing like sitting down to fill out the holiday cards and realizing you’re not quite sure what to do with your apostrophe. Do you wish your friends and family season’s greetings? Or, should it be seasons’ greetings?
Maybe you can just bypass that pesky punctuation altogether? Hey, if you’re sloppy enough, the smudged ink might just make it unclear one way or the other anyways.
Then again, a look at where we got this popular holiday saying may help clear up the spelling confusion and to figure out what this festive saying actually means.
What are “season’s greetings”?
Sure, we just gave away the answer, but please bear with us!
The word season in the two-word phrase typically covers the whole gamut of holidays packed into the last month and a half of the year, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, Hanukkah to Kwanzaa, and of course the new year too. The greetings, on the other hand, are friendly regards or wishes.
In the case of season’s greetings, adding an apostrophe and the letter S to the word season indicates possession: Those greetings belong to the season.
By adding that apostrophe and the S, we let someone know we’re not just greeting them about periods of time throughout the year, we’re sending them happy thoughts during this particular time of year, the one glut with celebrations.
Why do we say “season’s greetings”?
The exact origins of the phrase are unknown, although the popularity of season’s greetings seems to have coincided with the growing usage of Merry Christmas, rather than Happy Christmas.
In meaning, it’s fairly interchangeable with Happy Holidays, another non-denominational greeting used in November and December. But, while Happy Holidays has taken on a slightly negative tone for some in the so-called “war on Christmas,” season’s greetings is still widely used and pleasantly inclusive.
So, go forth and be merry … and greet the season with an apostrophe!
What about that other holiday phrase: ’tis the season? What the heck is ’tis and where did it come from?