Topical Guides

Topical Guides are provided by the AP Stylebook editors for timely events. Here is the most recent topical guide:

2016 Holiday Style Guide

Spellings and definitions of terms associated with religious and cultural events around the turn of the year. Some are in the AP Stylebook; others are common usage in holiday stories transmitted by AP.

"A Visit From St. Nicholas" Poem by Clement Clarke Moore that begins, "'Twas the night before Christmas ..."

"Auld Lang Syne" Sung to greet the new year, poem by Robert Burns set to Scottish music.

"Bah! Humbug!" Ebenezer Scrooge's denunciation of holiday sentiment in "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" Spell the numeral in the Christmas carol.

"White Christmas" Irving Berlin's sentimental ballad immortalized by crooner Bing Crosby.

Advent Period including the four Sundays preceding Christmas.

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) -- Dateline for AP stories from the biblical site of Jesus' birth.

Bible Capitalize in reference to the Scriptures; lowercase biblical in all uses.

Black Friday The last Friday in November, when U.S. retail stores traditionally launch the start of Christmas shopping.

Boxing Day Post-Christmas holiday Dec. 26 In British Commonwealth countries.

Champagne Capitalize sparkling wine from that French region uncorked to celebrate New Year's. If made elsewhere, call it sparkling wine.

Christmas tree Lowercase tree and other seasonal terms with Christmas: card, wreath, carol, etc. Exception: National Christmas Tree in Washington.

Christmas, Christmas Day Dec. 25 Christian feast marking the birth of Jesus. Christmas Eve is also capitalized.

Christmastime One word.

Cyber Monday The Monday after Thanksgiving, typically the busiest day of the year for online shopping in the U.S.

dreidel Toy spinning top used in games played during Hanukkah.

Feliz Navidad Traditional Spanish greeting for Christmas.

Friendsgiving A Thanksgiving-style gathering with friends instead of family. Usually held in late November on a day other than the fourth Thursday, Friendsgiving is celebrated in addition to traditional Thanksgiving, not instead of it. Especially popular with millennials, it's often a potluck party and does not always feature traditional Thanksgiving food.

Grinch Spoilsport who steals holiday fun, based on the title character in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" by Dr. Seuss.

hallelujah Lowercase the biblical praise to God, but capitalize in composition titles: Handel's "Hallelujah" chorus.

Hanukkah Eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights starting Dec. 24 this year.

happy holidays, merry Christmas, season's greetings, happy birthday, happy new year Lowercase except in exclamations (Christmas is always capitalized): Have a happy new year, wishing you a merry Christmas, sending season's greetings your way. In exclamations: Happy holidays! Merry Christmas! Season's greetings! Happy New Year! (New Year is up in this use for the Jan. 1 holiday.)

New Year's Eve, New Year's, New Year's Day, Happy New Year Capitalize for the days of Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 and in exclamations. But lowercase general references to the coming year: What will the new year bring?

Holy Land Capitalize the biblical region.

Jesus, Jesus Christ Pronouns referring to him are lowercase, as is savior.

Kriss Kringle Not Kris. Derived from the German word Christkindl, or baby Jesus.

Kwanzaa African-American and Pan-African celebration of family, community and culture, Dec. 26-Jan. 1.

lighted, lit Either is acceptable as the past tense form of light.

Lunar New Year The most important holiday in several East Asian countries, marking the start of the Chinese lunar calendar. The holiday starts anytime from mid-January to mid-February depending on the year (Jan. 28 in 2017). In China it is marked by a weeklong public holiday and mass travel by Chinese to their hometowns for family reunions. Also celebrated among Chinese communities overseas, especially in Southeast Asia. Lunar New Year is preferred over Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, the name it is known by in China. The holiday is also observed in South Korea, where it is known as Seollal, and Vietnam, where it is known as Tet.

Magi The wise men who brought gifts to the infant Jesus at Epiphany, celebrated Jan. 6.

Mawlid al-Nabi Holiday celebrating the birthday of Islam's prophet, Muhammad, born in the year 570. It is marked in many Muslim countries, though not all, as a public holiday, and families often celebrate with special sweets. Observed this year on Dec. 11.

menorah The seven-branch candelabrum from the ancient temple in Jerusalem. Also the popular term for the nine-branch candelabrum, or hanukkiah, used on the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

Messiah Capitalized in references to Jesus or to the promised deliverer in Judaism.

mistletoe A yellowish evergreen hung as a Christmas decoration; by tradition, people kiss when standing under a sprig.

Nativity scene Only the first word is capitalized.

New Year's Eve, New Year's Day Capitalized for Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

noel A Christmas carol, borrowed from the French word for Christmas, which is capitalized.

North Pole Mythical home of Santa Claus.

poinsettia Decorative plant for Christmas; note the "ia."

regifting Passing along an unwanted Christmas present to someone else.

Santa Claus Brings toys to children in a sleigh pulled by reindeer on Christmas Eve.

Thanksgiving weekend Lowercase weekend.

Twelfth Night The evening before the Twelfth Day, Jan. 6, that traditionally ends the Christmas season.

Xmas Don't use this abbreviation for Christmas.

Yule, Yuletide Old English for Christmas season.

All contents © copyright 2016 Associated Press. All rights reserved.