“X” mas instead of Christmas
I have to admit that I have never liked using this shortened form for Christmas because it struck me as ‘taking the Christ out of Christmas.’ In fact I have often heard it stated such and considered it a sign of disrespect. Therefore, when I stumbled across this history lesson in my idle rambles through the various traditions, imagine my pleasure……..
The ‘X’ abbreviation for Christmas is of Greek origin. The word for Christos – ‘Messiah’ or ‘Annointed One’ – in Greek is spelled Xristos or Xpiotoc. The Greek letter X is Chi or Khi. Numerous early church documents of the Greek Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches contain the letters XP or Xt as a substitute for Christ. During the 16th century some Europeans began using the first initial of Christ’s name, as they saw it, as a shorthand form for Christmas. Early Christians understood this, but the actual meaning became lost over time until now it is mistaken as a sign of contempt for the true purpose and significance of Christmas.
As for the ofttimes extended idea that the X originated as a representative of Jesus’ cross, there is no basis in fact. There is overwhelmingly strong evidence, irrefutable actually, that the Roman crosses used for crucifixion were always in a T shape.Of course, the truth is that for many this is indeed a way of minimizing Jesus’ influence on the season. Between political correctness, commercialism, and the general secularization of Christmas, there can be no doubt that the habit has been grasped onto. I suppose it is ironic and somewhat humorous that those who do so for these reasons have no clue either that they are actually using a symbol with deep, ancient religious roots!
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