Explore, Experiment, Discover

Happy Xmas!

With the Advent season upon us, I thought I’d get this settled early on, before people start in with the “taking Christ out of Christmas” line. Contrary to popular belief, Xmas is not now, nor has it ever been, an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas.

The name Christ in Greek is Χριστος. Notice the first letter, “X”. In ancient times paper was expensive and making books and scrolls was very labor intensive, as everything had to be written by hand. Very early on, Christian monks started abbreviating Christ with the first initial “X” in order to save time and money. This can be seen in Orthodox icons (see the upper right corner of the picture), as well as many ancient manuscripts. In the Renaissance, and later with the advent of the printing press, words such as Xtian (for Christian), Xtianity (for Christianity), and, yes, Xmas (for Christmas) began to be used more widely.

This continued to be widely understood even up through the 1800s as almost all schools required students to learn both Greek and Latin. It is only until very recent times that people with scant grasp of history have alleged that Xmas is an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas. In fact, though the abbreviation was generally considered informal, many preferred the Xmas, because while retaining the name Christ (Χριστος), the X also resembles St. Andrew’s cross, and ties the name of Christ to remembrance of the martyrs who died for His sake. Hopefully this sets the record straight. Have a very Merry Xmas everyone!

P.S. - On a side note, I wonder if anyone has ever thought of a “Keep the Mas in Christmas” campaign. It seems that very few people today actually associate going to church with the Christmas holiday, which is a pity.


Abigail said…
That's very interesting...I never knew any of that. :) Thanks for posting about it!

JATB said…
As for "keep the 'mas' in Christmas," take a look: