Putting the X back in Xmas

Ok. Ok. Before you burn me at the stake for taking “Christ out of Christmas,” give a minute to explain. If you know me, you would know that I am definitely all about The Christmas season. Spending time with family, exchanging gifts, shopping on Christmas Eve(this is a tradition my Poppy started) and of course who could forget watching National Lampoons’s Christmas Vacation. Like that song goes- these are just a few of my favorite things. But of course the reason we celebrate on December 25th in America is to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ. This is a Christian holiday but many have adopted simply as a time of family fun and memory making. 

If you know me, you would also know that one thing I cannot tolerate is ignorant rants on the internet. I have a personal rule not to get involved with correcting people because honestly it’s not really worth it. Correcting people on Facebook and Twitter could literally be a full time job. That being said, if you have been on any social media for any amount of time lately or even just driven around a city in the Bible Belt, you will see the campaign “Keep Christ in Christmas” or “It’s OK to say Merry Christmas” everywhere. I have seen many people on the internet and in real life who it seems like they will disown you, or at least unfollow you, if you even hint at saying Happy Xmas. Usually these are well meaning Christians who think that by saying Xmas you are saying that Christ should no longer be the reason for the season. This is honestly wrong. There is the other side who really don’t want Christ in Christmas and think that by saying Xmas, they are effectively taking Him out of it. This is also equally wrong. 

Xmas is a commonly used abbreviation for Christmas. Abbreviation, not a replacement. Xmas literally means Christmas. Don’t believe me? Ok. Just keep reading.

In English we say Christ, but as you probably already know the writers of the Bible did not speak English. They spoke and wrote in a form of Greek. So, the original way that “Christ” was written was Χριστος which in English is translated as Christos or Christ. A couple hundred years after the Bible was written, we find Constantine using the the greek letters Χρ with his armies’ standards that were carried into battle. He did this thinking it would give him special favor with God. This is the first time we see the X used for abbreviations. Skip forward to around 1100 A.D. when an Anglo-Saxon writer used the words Xp̄es mæsse, meaning Christ Mass. Yes, as in a Catholic mass. He didn’t quite say Xmas but you can start to see where this is going.

From the mid 1500s to now, the use of Xp̄es mæsse has changed to Xmas. This is simply because people knew that the X was short hand for Xp̄es meaning Christ. Calling Christians “Xtians” was also common. This type of short hand has been very popular for the last several hundred years. Mainly because of well educated Englishmen who knew Greek. Mr. Radcliff of Plymouth even used a similar type of short hand to write the Lord’s Prayer like this “Our Fth wch rt n hvn ; hlwd b y Nm Y Kgdm cm Y wl b dn n rth z it s n Hvn.” And people are still using X as an abbreviation for “Chri” or “Chris” today. If you are a fan of The Voice(which I am) you would know that Christina Aguilera’s team is called Team Xtina, a short way of saying Christina.

So that’s it. Xmas is not some made up, non-Christian term. It’s actually just as correct as saying Christmas. But if you want to be really holy you can walk around telling people “Merry Xp̄es mæsse.” Totally joking. People will probably think you’re crazy. Let’s be honest. There is no point in Christians putting other people down or getting in arguments over something as simple as this. And if you are reading this as a non-Christian, I would like to apologize. In a time that should be about celebrating one of our most core beliefs as Christians, the birth of Christ, some Christians forget about our other beliefs. Such as love and patience. Please do not allow the ignorance of some to define the whole.

No matter what your beliefs are, enjoy this season. Have fun with family and friends. Mediate on what you have accomplished this year and what you plan on accomplishing next year. So from me to you have a Merry Xmas and Happy New Year.