Xmas: A Time to Celebrate X’s Birth

Rusty - December 22, 2005

I love it when Christians get bothered about “taking Christ out of Chirstmas” by calling it Xmas.

An excerpt from Wikipedia:

Xmas (or X-mas) is an abbreviation for Christmas. It is derived from the word ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, transliterated as Christos, which is Greek for Christ. Greek is the language in which the whole New Testament was written.

Originally, in “Xmas”, X represented the Greek letter χ (see chi). It was pronounced with an aspirated [kh], which is the first letter of Christ’s name in Greek. An upper-case χ has the same shape as a Latin alphabet letter X, hence the abbreviation “Xmas”.

It seems Christmas has been abbreviated for at least the past 1,000 years. Before Xmas, there was XPmas, according to Inge Milfull, assistant editor of etymology at Oxford English Dictionaries (OED). She found references in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle as far back as 1021 and says the P was probably dropped later. XP, or the Greek Letters χ (chi) and ρ (rho) is an ancient abbreviation for Christ (see Labarum) and is still widely seen in many Eastern Orthodox icons depicting Jesus Christ.

As origins of the word go largely unnoticed by the larger public, many people believe that the term is often used as a tool by some to “take Christ out of Christmas” as a means of secularization or a vehicle for pushing political correctness. This notion is greatly disputed.

A lump of coal to all whiners!

19 Comments »

  1. Thanks Rusty, I’m glad you reminded us of this fact. Maybe instead of having crosses, we Mormons should put up big X’s on our walls. That’ll get people going!

    Comment by Ronan — December 22, 2005 @ 11:32 am

  2. Plus it’s easier to type.

    Comment by Susan M — December 22, 2005 @ 12:05 pm

  3. rusty, you have way too much time on your hands at work.

    Comment by stephen — December 22, 2005 @ 12:44 pm

  4. Stephen,
    Whatever. It took me three minutes to pull this together. Don’t you have some archiving to do?

    Comment by Rusty — December 22, 2005 @ 12:50 pm

  5. It hinted at this, but I thought I’d just make it more clear. Not only does the “X” represent Christ, it was also done out of respect – so as to not use His name too frequently. But when it’s used today, you have to wonder if that’s really why it’s being used…

    Comment by me — December 22, 2005 @ 1:20 pm

  6. Not to be a party pooper, but “X” doesn’t stand for “Christ”. It’s more like “X” stands for the “C” in “Christ”.

    Actually, ow that I think about it, I don’t mind being a party pooper.

    Comment by Kim Siever — December 22, 2005 @ 1:33 pm

  7. It’s my party, and I’ll poop if I want to.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — December 22, 2005 @ 1:35 pm

  8. I’ve been to many of D’s parties, and he always has the good sense to poop where we can’t all see it.

    Hi D!

    Comment by Chris Williams — December 22, 2005 @ 2:13 pm

  9. I gave a (anti-X) talk in college on this once; people loved it. Still makes me giggle to think of li’l presumtuous me waxing eloquent about “taking the Christ out of Christmas.”

    Comment by B. Bowen — December 22, 2005 @ 7:30 pm

  10. Hi Chris.

    Comment by B. Bowen — December 22, 2005 @ 7:31 pm

  11. Perhaps we should all celebrate X-Mas by going and buying an X-Box. (Or, if we already own one, by playing it.)

    Comment by Kaimi — December 22, 2005 @ 8:06 pm

  12. So then the X-Box 360 would then mean what?

    Comment by Anonymous — December 23, 2005 @ 8:17 am

  13. That’s how many days we don’t think about X each year.

    Comment by Russ J — December 23, 2005 @ 10:24 pm

  14. I’m all for we Mormons using the chi/rho symbols and any other that represent Christ every once in a great while. Who knows, maybe wouldn’t have lost any battles and been driven out of Missouri and/or Nauvoo if we put the laberum on our shields (er, wagons? uniforms?)

    Comment by Bret — December 24, 2005 @ 3:35 am

  15. Locally, when they “take the Christ out of Christmas” it means switching to “happy holidays” — which doesn’t bother me at all. Even the “winter festival” stuff …

    I’ve been LDS in places where there were regular crusades against the Church, and I can only guess what it is like to be Jewish.

    On the other hand, my daughter’s Hindi friends all celebrate Christmas and every other holiday that is suggested to them.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — December 24, 2005 @ 1:19 pm

  16. I thought that Malcom X was born on Christmas also, hence, Xmas. 8>)

    Comment by Floyd the Wonderdog — December 25, 2005 @ 8:14 pm

  17. If XP means Christ, what does “Windows XP” mean? 8-)

    Comment by ed — January 4, 2006 @ 12:37 am

  18. God saves us from Bill Gates’ buggy software?

    Comment by Sarebear — January 4, 2006 @ 12:54 am

  19. Yes, and that salvation comes in the form of OS X (Mac).

    Comment by Rusty — January 4, 2006 @ 1:44 am

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