How Do We Say Halloween?


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.