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Is it possible to use the definite article with holidays and special days like Flag Day and Valentine's Day? For instance, are "the Flag Day", "the Valentine's Day", or "the Christmas" correct?

I'm wondering because people can use either "the earth" or "Earth" and be grammatically correct with either one.

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Yes and no. It's not standard English, first of all. Holidays are usually considered to be names in and of themselves, so adding an article doesn't make sense.

Second, a number of holidays are possessives. Valentine's Day, Mothers' Day, St. Crispin's Day, etc. One does not add an article to possessive forms.

Earth as opposed to the earth is a different situation. Our world is the earth. However, in English the term the earth has been borrowed to be the name of our world as well, Earth. (There is the additional confusion that dirt can also be called earth.) It is because of this potential for ambiguity that science fiction writers will often use the term Terra for our world, and Sol for our sun.

(Consider Washington DC, which is served by an airport named Washington-Dulles International. One could say "I am going to the airport", or "I am going to Washington Dulles International". One would not say "I am going to the Dulles".)

That all being said, while it is NOT standard English, it is not uncommon to use inappropriate articles for humourous effect. I frequently make references to "The Google", and I can imagine students talking about "going home for the Christmas".

  • So if I don't intend to be funny, it's outright wrong to use articles with holidays, right? I keep using articles at the beginning of my sentences and it makes me sound funny. How can I avoid these awkward artcles? – jess Jun 14 '13 at 15:10
  • If you're not intending to be funny, then no, it is not appropriate to use articles with holidays. As for how to avoid awkward articles at the beginning of sentences, that might be more of a question for the Writers Stack Exchange. The best thing I can think of is hard work: Review what you write before publishing it, and specifically look at sentence beginnings for inappropriate articles. It is not easy and it is not fun, but it works. – Jonathan Garber Jun 14 '13 at 15:37
  • What about when I'm talking to people? I tend to throw in random "the" and "a". Another question on writing-is is correct if i write (or say, even) the earth day without capitalizing anything? – jess Jun 14 '13 at 16:25
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    If you write "the earth day" then you have made two mistakes: including the article, and not capitalizing a proper name. Say "the" when you are talking about a specific object that you are referring to by its generic name ("the desk", "the chair"); do not say "the" when you are referring to something by its unique, individual name ("Google", "Fred"). – Hellion Jun 14 '13 at 17:16
  • @jess: "Outright wrong" is a strong way of saying it. You might see an article in front of a holiday, when the holiday is being used as an adjective, as opposed to a reference to the holiday itself. So, for example, you might see, the Thanksgiving weekend, the Christmas season, a President's Day sale, a Valentine's Day peak, etc. – J.R. Jun 14 '13 at 22:47

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