Independent Christian Voice

Tuesday

Putting the "X" back in "Xmas"

I came across a comment on a message board that is fairly representative of a large segment of Christians — especially fundamentalist denominations: "Saying x-mas is just the same as taking 'Christ' out of Christmas." I first heard this as a young child while visiting a Sunday School class at my grandparents' rural Church of Christ. I believe the teacher's words went something like "writing Xmas is like marking out Christ" as she demonstrated it with her pen. The message poster, who is a youth leader in his church (and thus has influence on impressionable young minds) went on to say, "Any minister that says saying x-mas is ok, should not be in the ministry. If it says Merry x-mas on the sign, I will not shop there....simple as that." His statements are based on ignorance, not any factually based principles found in the Bible, but rather man-created doctrine that's nothing more than hollow religiosity. Wikipedia has probably the simplest explanation about the meaning of "Xmas" and its origins:

Xmas (or X-mas) is an abbreviation for Christmas. It is derived from the word ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, transliterated as Christos, which is Greek for Christ. Greek is the language in which the whole New Testament was written.

Originally, in "Xmas", X represented the Greek letter χ (see chi). It was pronounced with a hard [kh], which is the first letter of Christ's name in Greek. However, because of the modern interpretations of the letter X, many people do not know this and assume that this abbreviation is meant to drop Christ from Christmas as a means of secularization or a vehicle for political correctness.

The occasionally seen belief that the X represents the cross Christ was crucified on has no basis in fact; St Andrew's Cross is X-shaped, but Christ's cross was probably shaped like a T or a †. Indeed, X-as-chi was associated with Christ long before X-as-cross could be. The use of X as an abbreviation for cross in modern abbreviated writing (e.g. "Kings X" for "Kings Cross") may have reinforced this assumption.

In ancient Christian art χ and χρ (Chi Ro--the first two letters in Greek of Christos) are abbreviations for Christ's name. In many manuscripts of the New Testament and icons, X is an abbreviation for Christos, as is XC (the first and last letters in Greek, using the lunate sigma); compare IC for Jesus in Greek. The Oxford English Dictionary documents the use of this abbreviation back to 1551, 50 years before the first English colonists came to North America and 60 years before the King James Version of the Bible was completed. At the same time, Xian and Xianity were in frequent use as abbreviations of "Christian" and "Christianity".

Now, we wouldn't want facts to force open a religously closed mind. But as a devoted Xian, I embrace the term "Xmas" because I know that "X" is Christ.

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