by Jennie Ruby
New Year's Day is the proper noun naming the day we celebrate the new year. That is why it is always capitalized. New Year's Eve is the night before, when all the partying really takes place. When wishing someone a happy new year, the phrase is capitalized and does not need the possessive apostrophe: Happy New Year! Occasionally, you may be using the phrase as an abbreviated form of the proper name of the day: Will I see you on New Year's? is actually short for New Year's Day, or possibly New Year's Eve, and therefore has the apostrophe.
Since there is only one New Year's Day per year, you never have to worry about putting the apostrophe after the s. Even when you are thinking back on all the New Year's Days you have celebrated, the apostrophe still goes before the s.
Here are some things NOT to do: Don't be like the fellow Billy who is giving us a list on his website of things to do for "New Years." If you are putting the s on New Year, you must use the apostrophe. And don't be like the website for clip art that is advertising "Happy New Year images." That is probably just their database sticking the word images after Happy New Year, but it is grammatically suspect. "Images for Happy New Year" would work better.
As one year ends and another year begins, let's all wish our friends and colleagues Happy Holidays! (no apostrophe) and Happy New Year! with no fear about the apostrophes!