Topical Guides

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

2014 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 ..."
Advent
Period including the four Sundays preceding 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.
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 sales 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.
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.
dreidel
Toy spinning top used in games played during Hanukkah.
Feliz Navidad
Traditional Spanish greeting for Christmas.
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. 16 this year.
happy holidays, merry Christmas, season’s greetings
Such phrases are generally spelled lowercase, though Christmas is always capitalized.
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.
Magi
The wise men who brought gifts to the infant Jesus at Epiphany, celebrated Jan. 6.
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.
"The Twelve Days of Christmas"
Spell the numeral in the Christmas carol.
Twelfth Night
The evening before the Twelfth Day, Jan. 6, that traditionally ends the Christmas season.
"White Christmas"
Irving Berlin's sentimental ballad immortalized by crooner Bing Crosby.
Xmas
Don't use this abbreviation for Christmas.
Yule, Yuletide
Old English for Christmas season.
All contents © copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved.