Putting the “X” Back in Christmas

The other day, while roaming the halls of facebook (because let’s face it, that’s where people are these days), a friend mentioned in her status that she was very offended by the use of X-Mas instead of Christmas, Some have even suggested that we all need to boycott retailers and business that use this term in place of Christmas.  (Frankly, I’ve never seen this used in any Christmas or Holiday display, ever).

 
I know there are many  that share this sentiment and are upset by the use of X-mas. Their knickers are sure to twist when I say this. X-Mas does not bother me, nor should it bother any of us. In fact, neither does Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, or Merry Winter Solstice bother me . I have friends that celebrate all of those things and I think at this time of year it’s all good. They let me have room to celebrate Christmas; I can only extend the same courtesy to them. This does not however mean, I will stop defending the Gospel or Christianity in general. What I’m saying is, before we get angry, we need to take a step back, especially at this time of year.

 

 From Wikipedia we learn:

The “X” in Xmas is from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of Χριστός, Christ in Greek.  The word “Christ” and its compounds, including “Christmas”, have been abbreviated in English for at least the past 1,000 years, long before the modern “Xmas” was commonly used. “Christ” was often written as “XP” or “Xt“; there are references in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as far back as AD 1021. This X and P arose as the uppercase forms of the Greek letters χ and ρ used in ancient abbreviations for Χριστος (Greek for “Christ”), and are still widely seen in many Eastern Orthodox icons depicting Jesus Christ. The labarum, an amalgamation of the two Greek letters rendered as , is a symbol often used to represent Christ in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian Churches.

 

When it comes down to it, I’m more bothered by Christmas displays up in August, Black Friday sales, people on TV telling me what gifts to buy, bad Christmas music (I’m talking to you Jessica Simpson) and people who leave their Christmas lights on till Valentine’s Day, not X-mas or Happy Holidays in a store display.  For me the X stands for Christ, and that’s what I’m trying very hard to remember at this time of year.

20 thoughts on “Putting the “X” Back in Christmas

  1. I never comment, but I enjoyed this post so much I had to say thank you. X-mas is a non-issue that distracts too many people from enjoying the season. If anything, saints should be getting more riled up about the commercialization of the holiday than by what it is called.

  2. I agree with Tristan. X-mas is a non-issue, and those that complain about it are looking for a reason to whine.

  3. I was also reading that early Christians abreiveated Christ with the Chi-Rho (labarum = letter P and letter X overlapping) in the same way that Jehovah is abbreivated in Hebrew, as a sign of resepct and reverence. The Chi-Rho/labarum) is all over in Bulgarian Orthodox iconography, and a symbol I find very beautiful.

  4. Yeah baby! Good post. Now can somebody tell my ward to stop scheduling the ward Xmas party for the first week of December? That is all.

  5. I always thought Bruce R. McConkie’s rant on “Xmas” in Mormon Doctrine was a little too much hyperventilation in the absence of understanding. Thanks for clearing that up.

  6. It seems to me that the amount of complaining an individual produces on a given subject often correlates with an absence of understanding of history and context of said subject. This, of course, is why I think learning about these sorts of things is both useful and important.

    Thanks, Joyce.

  7. Very interesting post, I’ve never thought about it too long before, but you do make an excellent point. I don’t mind many different, various celebrations, but I do get annoyed when Christmas is specifically excluded because people are worried it will be offensive. (Those people don’t use X-mas, though, because it still stands for Christmas.)

  8. Geoff B, you just need to consiencously object to all ward parties. It’s the tables laden with cream of soup casseroles and jellos that scare me away.

    Mark, funny thing, I don’t even own Mormon Doctrine. I had no idea McConkie had said anything.

    Thanks to the rest of you for your kind words. :)

  9. First of all – what would we do without wikipedia? ;)

    second of all – I never really cared much whether people wrote Christmas or Xmas. As I can be traditional, at times, I used to always write it out. (Plus, my mom is very much in the anti-x-mas-camp, so I think that I may have been a little brainwashed). However, recently I’ve found that when I text I NEVER spell out Christmas…

    Thanks for educational post.

  10. Wonderful post Joyce. This is a fine example of why the Bloggernacle enriches our lives with worthwhile tidbits of knowledge. I am with you on celebrating all the winter solstice holidays. We seriously would celebrate Kwanzaa cause it has great family values, but with all the others we have elected to celebrate ( the usual plus Jewish Holy Days, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year) I am all holidayed out.

  11. I don’t see how your explanation de-validates concerns about replacing Christmas with Xmas. It’s still replacing Christ with X. Cmas would be equally irreverent, and IMO, on the same level as, “Yo! J.C. is my homeboy! Word!”

  12. Kim- In Jewish tradition, substitutions are frequently used in place of writing God. THey do this as God is too holy for common usage. For example, modern Jews write God as G_d. The early Christians operated similar to the Jews, so using “X” was a way of reverencing Christ.

  13. Kim, the X stands for Christ. That’s my point.

    Also JA makes some good points. Several Jewish friends have convinced me that God is more appropriately written out G-d.

  14. This fits in well with the Evangelical Right’s ficticious war on Christmas – you see just like the liberals need the fear of a corporatist America to stir up their base so do the right wingers need the war on Christmas, gay marriage and the so-called God ban in schools to get their faithful supporters all worked up – it’s all hokey if you ask…so Merry Xmas from a Christ-follower

  15. I’m with Kim. The justification and explanation for using an X as an appropriate substitute for Christ, seems very convoluted to me. Sorry, I’m not buying it. Why use X at all? Just spell-out the full word Christmas for heck sakes! If you don’t have enough ink or space and must abbreviate, then use Cmas. No long explanation needed for what the C stands for.

  16. I gotta disagree Scott.

    “Just spell-out the full word Christmas for heck sakes” Xmas is an ancient symbol. Christ was seen as too sacred to fully spell out. For them, it has nothing to do with laziness. That is how the Ancients saw it.

  17. I don’t agree. Sure, maybe technically, that’s how x-mas got started long ago. But really who knows that now? I think now, in our time, when there is so much need for Christ in the world, it is crucial that we spell out the full word… Christmas. It’s really not that hard, not very many more letters…. but it means so much more. Keep “Christ” in Christmas!

  18. I appreciate all of this post, especially in general not being offended at this time of year and the many different celebratory greetings across the world. I am glad to know that the X represents Christ. However, for me – when I see “X-mas”, I still in my head read “X” “MAS” and not Christmas. I’m not sure why I can not change it. So, I still prefer to see Christmas and am not in favor of a general acceptance of ‘X-mas’ – because for me, it does not read the same way.

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