Fathers’ Day vs. Father’s Day vs. Fathers Day

Mothers’ Day, Mother’s Day, Fathers’ Day, Father’s Day…Golly, can I get worked up over punctuation.  There are also the punctu-naked (and typically British) options of Mothers Day and Fathers Day.  I get really up in arms over Mothers’ Day and its apostrophe; I am a bit more rational about the third Sunday in June.

I don’t know if it has to do with the societal role and expectations of mothers or my own situation, but I find Fathers’ v. Father’s v. Fathers Day much less personal than its maternal counterpart.  My guess is that it’s a combination of the two, with a dash of gender-driven emotion.  Honestly, the punctuation of today is not a frequent concern of mine – it’s more intellectual.

Part of me loves order and consistency, so wants to push for “Fathers’ Day” based on the same arguments I made for mothers and also so they match.  I mean, that would make sense, right?  Set a standard that holidays honoring parents are possessive plurals.  It is more typical for a single-parent family to have a mother than it is a father – meaning increased potential (and desire) for the inclusion of father figures and non-biological fathers.   Also, there seem to be more group activities (sporting events, picnics) for fathers than mothers.  The time of year and traditional nature of family dynamic (mothers being home with the children when the holiday began over a century ago, fathers being with the family during more social times) adds to that.

I still don’t particularly care for the singular possessive of Father’s Day.  I feel less bad about it than with Mothers’ Day though – probably out of both selfish roots and also because the hype of Fathers’ Day is so much less, meaning I notice and think about it less.  Due to the increased opportunities to come together in groups for Fathers’ Day, I am also less against the singular possessive.  It totally should be the opposite of that, but maybe I just find it more balanced.  I know not.  It just is.

The non-possessive, simple plural of Mothers Day and Fathers Day holds some appeal for me.  The logic behind that syntax is that it is a day for mothers/fathers, versus belonging to them.  I like that.  Of course, if we are going to adopt something (ideally logical) from across the pond, I still might vote for the metric system.

Regardless of how you write it, make sure to say it today and whenever you can: Happy Fathers’/Father’s/Fathers Day Dad!


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