14th February 2020
Apostrophe Tips: Valentine’s Day or Valentines Day?
Today is Valentine’s Day. A day of love, romance, and… apostrophes? Yes, at this time every year we’re asked whether Saint Valentine requires a possessive apostrophe. As such, we’ve put together some punctuation advice to make sure any notes you send to your significant other are (lovingly) error free.
How to Write Valentine’s Day
While you may see “Valentines Day” written in some places, this is incorrect. The day in question is the day of Saint Valentine, so it “belongs” to him.
And when something belongs to someone, we show this using a possessive apostrophe. Hence, “Valentine’s Day” is the correct spelling.
In addition, remember that “Valentine’s Day” is a proper noun. As such, we capitalize the “V” and the “D.” But if you are referring to a “valentine” (e.g., a greetings card or message), there is no need to use a capital “V.”
Who Is This Valentine Guy, Anyway?
Valentine’s Day is named for Saint Valentine, an early Christian saint who has been celebrated on February 14 since the Middle Ages. But what does he have to do with love and romance? That’s a tricky question.
There are multiple “Valentines” linked to the date in question. But the one most people focus on is Saint Valentine of Rome.
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This Valentine was sentenced to death by Emperor Claudius II. Before he died, he befriended and cured the blind daughter of his jailer, giving her a note saying, “From your Valentine” (the first ever valentine).
Romantic, eh? Maybe not by modern standards.
But the link between love and Saint Valentine only came later, possibly because the date was associated with the start of mating season. We see this in the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer, who wrote: “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”
So, in a sense, our modern version of Valentine’s Day is all about the birds and the bees! Or the birds, at least. Chaucer didn’t say much about the romance of bees. And if you’re writing a Valentine’s Day note for a loved one, why not have it proofread? If you ask us, nothing suggests love like perfect punctuation!
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