It’s my favorite holiday and the most wonderful time of the year! My house is covered in Xmas lights, presents for my family are stacked until my Xmas tree, and I’ve already started putting on my Xmas weight.
Now, why do I keep repeating Xmas? Lets talk about it.
I’m sure you have all heard about people being offended at the use of “Xmas” instead of “Christmas”. It’s often because they believe that it’s disrespectful to Christianity and its intent is to “remove Christ from Christmas”. Is there any truth in this?
Nope. Not at all.
I can see why some people might prefer the full traditional/proper spelling, but the idea behind the shorter version was never meant to be offensive. The shortening of Christmas to Xmas actually goes farther back in history than many other Christmas traditions (I’m looking at you, Elf on the Shelf).
The “X” in Xmas actually comes from the Greek spelling of Christ: ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ. That first letter is the Greek letter Chi (rhymes with shy). So, Xmas is literally an abbreviation of ‘Christ’ and ‘Mas’. The X is not marking out Christ, as some might say, but just a shortened version of the name that religious scholars have been using for years.
And, in fact, its even more powerful than that. The letter Chi was used by early Greek scholars to indicate something “good” or “notable”. The symbol, later merged with the Greek letter Rho, became a powerful religious symbol called the Chi-Rho.
Emperor Constantine even went to battle with the Chi-Rho on his flags. At a time when the modern Christian cross wasn’t used, the Chi-Rho was THE symbol for Christianity.
I love how the blog So Long As Its Words puts it: The Chi-Rho “is what we call a nomen sacrum, a sacred name, in which the symbol itself has power. In such cases, the abbreviation is not used to save space or effort, but because that form has more power than the full words. It was ‘not really devised to lighten the labours of the scribe, but rather to shroud in reverent obscurity the holiest words of the Christian religion’.”
As early as 1485, the Chi alone began being substituted for the name of Christ in words such as christened and names like Christine and Christopher. The Online Etymology Dictionary points to 1551 as the first year that we started seeing the Xmas abbreviation.
With Xmas/Christmas coming up, I want to thank each and every one of my readers for checking out my little blog. I hope you have a wonderful holiday (whichever one you celebrate) with family, friends, and fattening foods!