Where do you stand on this debate: Christmas or Xmas? Have you had a well-meaning Christian scold you for signing your Christmas cards with Merry Xmas or for updating your Facebook status with Wishing you all a Merry Xmas? I personally think we need to put the X back in Christmas.
This has been quite the heated debate in the last couple of years. Some would suggest the following reasons on why one shouldn’t use Xmas:
- It takes Christ out of Christmas
- It’s a nonreligious name for Christmas
- We are X-ing out Christ in Christmas
- People are trying to create a secular holiday
- It’s an insult to Christians
I recently read this online “Even more sad is that many Christians foolishly write “X-MAS”, not realizing its wicked message.” I am sure there are businesses in the advertising world who would prefer to use this abbreviation to be more politically correct or people who don’t care to have Christ in any of their Christmas celebrations and they want Him out of the picture. But it’s not accurate to categorize or label a Christian as less of a believer, or that they are condoning wicked ways, just because we choose to write Xmas instead of writing Christmas. In actuality, there isn’t a covert “Operation Xmas” to turn Christmas into a secular holiday; Xmas is actually deeply rooted in our church history.
There are historical and simple reasons for writing Xmas instead of Christmas. For starters, it’s easier. Come on, we all abbreviate things in life just for the sake of convenience not necessarily to make a statement on an issue. For some of us we are just plain lazy. But the reason I want to focus on is that “X” is ancient Greek shorthand for writing “Christ.” Let me explain.
When I was in college I took Ancient Greek for a year. I don’t remember much from my Greek class, mainly because it was held at 7:30 a.m. and I also don’t use it very much in my everyday life. I guess I could go around saying “I agape you” instead of saying I love you, but I don’t. Anyways, one of the things we had to learn in the beginning of the course was the Greek alphabet. Guess what the symbol for the letters”CH” is. X. Many of the students in class used X for Christ when taking notes. This is my “just plain lazy and easier” reason. Later I discovered that at one time, it was a popular practice by scribes to use X in place of Christ’s name, and around the 15th century it became a popular way to write Christ. This is my ancient Greek scholarly reason.
In Greek, you write Christ like this: Χριστός translated Christos. Note the “X” in greek is “CH” for Christ. Now you know, Christmas and Xmas are equivalent in meaning.
There are so many ways that we take Christ out of Christmas during the holidays with our actions even if we sign our holiday cards with, Merry CHRISTmas. So instead of focusing on how someone is writing Christmas or all the shopping you still have to do, or all the holiday parties you have to attend or didn’t get invited to… let’s focus on this “Love came down to Save Us!” The reality is its easy to lose focus of Christ with our actions during this season in all of the hustle and bustle even as Christ followers.
Yes, I do agree that many people want to secularize Christmas by getting rid of mangers, replacing Jesus with presents, Santa etc., but let’s not get in a tizzy over how someone writes Xmas or Christmas, because in reality we need X back into Christmas. I hope that makes sense now that you know, writing Xmas instead of Christmas is not a worldly form to overthrow Christendom.
So next time someone scolds you for writing Xmas instead of Christmas, let them know that you are actually using ancient Greek to express your holiday sentiments.
What is your preference? I use both and Feliz Navidad!