We’re now entering December, and nearing Christmas time. I’m already starting to see the facebook posts about how the ‘x’ in ‘x-mas’ is a secular attempt to take Christ out of Christmas. This, however, is incorrect. As I’ve said before, I’m fond of church history. I wish more people were, then issues like this wouldn’t arise as much as they do. At least I get a chance to share some knowledge with you. So, what is ‘x-mas’ anyway? Does it exclude Christ? Conspiracy, or misunderstanding? Let’s take a look.

To start, we’ll address the letter X. This is the main root of contention with this argument, and is where most of the misunderstanding comes from. I would point out that while this looks like an English letter, it’s actually Greek. ‘X’ is the Greek letter ‘Chi’, pronounced kai. It’s the first letter in the Greek rendering of the word Christos, Χριστός.

Historically ‘X’ and variations of it have been used as shorthand for ‘Christ.’ You’ll see things like ‘Xt’ or ‘Xp’ also. Because of this ‘Christian’ is sometimes written as ‘Xtian’ or ‘Xpian.’ You’ll also sometimes see names like ‘Christopher’ or ‘Christina’ written as ‘Xtopher’ or ‘Xtina’. The usage of ‘X’ for ‘Christ’ is the older equivalent of modern people writing ‘J.C.’ instead of ‘Jesus Christ.’

‘X’ and ‘P’ are the first two letters of Χριστός, when superimposed on each other it is referred to as the ‘Chi Rho’, their respective letters. A common symbol for Christ, as seen below, which was also used by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century.

The rendering ‘X-mas’ isn’t a matter of blasphemy, it’s a short version of ‘Christ mass.’ It’s usage dates back to c.1500, or earlier. From about 1940 on there was a resistance in using ‘X’ for ‘Christ’ because of the erroneous belief that things, such as ‘x-mas’, were an attempt to remove Christ from common parlance. The 20th century wasn’t a great time for church history, in my experience. I’ve mentioned before about the bad theology of my youth. This is another casualty of that, I’m afraid. The disregard for church history coincides with the modern rise of Evangelicalism in the U.S., with the trend of radio and televangelism dominating Christian thought. While I don’t want to fault anyone, you can’t just listen to anything a preacher says and consider it gospel. That will be an argument for another day. Until then;

Merry Xmas




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