Dec 27, 2014

Xmas vs. Christmas

Some people use Xmas as shorthand for Christmas, the abbreviation is not modern and was not invented for the purpose of being disrespectful to Christians. It is not supposed to eliminate the word “Christ” and the X is not meant to stand for anonymity. The X is actually considered to represent the letter Chi from the Greek alphabet, the first letter in the word Christos. The “-mas” part on the end of Christmas and Xmas comes from the Old English word for “mass”.

Xmas is sometimes pronounced xmas, but it and variants such as Xtemass, originated as handwriting abbreviations for the typical pronunciation of Christmas. There is a common misconception that the word Xmas stems from a secular attempt to remove the religious tradition from Christmas by taking the 'Christ' out of 'Christmas', but its use dates back to the 16th century.

In the United States, in 1977 New Hampshire Governor Meldrim Thomson sent out a press release saying that he wanted journalists to keep the 'Christ' in Christmas, and not call it Xmas, which he called a pagan spelling of Christmas. Many of those who dislike abbreviating the word are unfamiliar with a long history of Christians using X in place of 'Christ' for various purposes.

The word 'Christ' and its compounds, including 'Christmas', have been abbreviated in English for at least the past 1,000 years, long before the modern "Xmas" was commonly used. Christ was often written as "Xρ" or "Xt" as far back as 1021. This X and P arose as the uppercase forms of the Greek letters χ (Ch) and ρ (R) used in ancient abbreviations for Χριστος (Greek for Christ), and are still widely seen in many Eastern Orthodox icons depicting Jesus Christ. The two Greek letters shown as ☧, is a symbol often used to represent Christ in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian Churches. Bottom Line; it was once positive to use xmas, but has now become bad form to use anything but Christmas.