Writing tips for March holidays and events

March is officially upon us as 2023 continues to fly by. Here is a nonexhaustive list of dates to keep your eye on this month.

March: Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month, which is celebrated each March, is capitalized. International Women’s Day is observed on March 8.

When writing about women, we recommend to use “woman” as opposed to “female” as an adjective. For example: Kamala Harris became the first woman vice president. And if you wouldn’t add “man” or “male” as a descriptor, don’t add “woman.” Never use “female” as a noun.

“Womxn” and “womyn” are alternative spellings of “woman,” but don’t assume that they signal inclusivity to everyone. You should avoid using either word to apply to a large group. Instead, be more specific: “The event was for women and nonbinary people.” Some people may self-identify as “womxn” or “womyn,” in which case use of either term is fine: “Her website says she is a womxn designer.”

And remember that “girls” are those under the age of 18, while “women” are adults.

March 3: World Wildlife Day

Capitalize “World Wildlife Day,” which is on March 3 each year: “The team celebrated World Wildlife Day by hosting an auction to raise money for wildlife preservation.”

March 6: Purim

Purim is a Jewish festival celebrated each year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar, which usually falls in late winter or early spring: “He fasted the day before Purim.”

March 8: Holi

Capitalize “Holi,” a Hindu festival that celebrates the beginning of spring after winter: “He celebrated Holi with his family.”

March 12: The Oscars

The Academy Awards, or the Oscars, honor film and are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. When someone wins, they win an Oscar or an Academy Award. Award categories are always capitalized: “The film was nominated for Best Picture.” However, “the academy” is lowercase: “This is the third year in a row the academy has nominated all white actors in that category.”

We recommend using gender-neutral language whenever possible, so that means using “actor” and “host” for all genders.

March 14: Equal Pay Day

The date of Equal Pay Day fluctuates every year based on how many additional days into the current year a woman in the U.S. would have to work to match the salary a man made in the previous year.

The other equal pay days, whose dates also fluctuate, are: AAPI Women’s Equal Pay Day, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, Latina Equal Pay Day, LGBTQ+ Equal Pay Awareness Day, Moms’ Equal Pay Day, Native Women’s Equal Pay Day.

March 14: March Madness begins

March Madness is the annual NCAA basketball tournament. Capitalize it in all uses: “The team was a surprise March Madness winner.” “Elite Eight” and “Final Four” are also capitalized.

March 15: The Ides of March

When you’re referencing the bad omen Ides of March make sure to capitalize it: “He warned her to ‘beware the Ides of March.'” Fun fact: “Ides” is a term ancient Romans used to refer to the middle of the month. The Ides of March is March 15, the day of Julius Caesar’s assassination. The phrase “beware the Ides of March” comes from Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar.”

March 17: St. Patrick’s Day

March 17 is the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. If you’re shortening the holiday’s name, use St. Paddy’s Day, a nod to Pádraig, the Irish spelling of Patrick. And if you’re lucky enough to find a four-leaf clover, don’t forget the hyphen to go with it.

March 20: Spring equinox

The spring equinox, which is not capitalized, is when day and night are about equal length on Earth. It marks the beginning of the spring season, which is also not capitalized. There is also an equinox in September, marking the start of fall. The equinoxes are often called “vernal” and “autumnal,” but make sure your audience understands what “vernal” means: “The vernal, or spring, equinox will be on March 20 this year.”

March 22: Ramadan begins

Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, starts on March 22 and will end with the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, the “festival of breaking the fast,” on April 21. While the holiday is capitalized, iftar — the meal Muslims eat after sunset to break their daily fasts — is not. And while Ramadan usually falls just once a year on the Gregorian calendar, due to differences between that calendar and the Islamic calendar, there will be two Ramadans in the year 2030.

March 25: Earth Hour

Capitalize “Earth Hour,” which is usually celebrated on the last Saturday in March and encourages people to switch off nonessential lights and appliances for one hour in the evening: “They marked Earth Hour by having a candlelit dinner.”

March 31: Transgender Day of Visibility

Transgender Day of Visibility occurs annually on March 31 to raise awareness about the lives of transgender people.

You should only include the fact that someone is transgender or cisgender when it’s relevant. “Transgender” and “trans” are adjectives: “Emmitt, who is a transgender man, noted the importance of representation of trans people in media.”

Always be sure to use correct pronouns, and don’t assume someone’s gender or sexual orientation. It’s your responsibility to seek this information. Do not refer to a person with a deadname or previous pronouns.

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