The topic of Halloween came up with one of my non-native English speaking speaking clients. He asked me why we stress the last part of that word, e.g., "HalloWEEN." It got me thinking.....Halloween was originally called All Hallow's Evening. "Evening" was shortened to "e'en. " So we are actually saying an adjective +noun and should therefore stress the noun, "e'en".
What about other holidays? How do we stress them? Remember, we stress with a higher pitch, louder voice, and longer vowelin the stressed syllable. Let's find some patterns:
Holidays with the word "day" are treated as compound nouns. Stress the first part of the holiday.
Valentine's Day Presidents' Day Memorial Day
Labor Day Flag Day Veterans Day
Election Day Columbus Day Groundhog Day
Mother's Day Father's Day Independence Day
Note: when we use "day" with multiple words, resort to the adjective + noun or proper noun rule, e.g., St. Patrick's Day, April Fool’s Day.
Exception: New Year's Day
Holidays with "Eve" are adjectives + noun: stress the last part
Christmas Eve New Year's Eve
Here are some other holidays that are adjectives + nouns:
Good Friday Easter Sunday April Fools
Ash Wednesday Palm Sunday
There are a few single name holidays:
Easter Christmas Thanksgiving
Then, we have holidays that are derived from other languages. Notice, with most 2-3 word holidays, we stress the last part.
Rosh Hashanah Yom Kippur Cinco de Mayo
Hanukkah /Chanukah Kwanzaa
What other holidays can you think of? Let us know.