Thursday, December 8, 2011

Merry Xmas? Xmas origins and Why No One Can X Christ Out of Christmas!

Every year at Christmas time I hear Christians denounce the use of Xmas. Even as a child, I was told that when a person uses that term, they are crossing Christ out of Christmas. Many people think it is a modern secular conspiracy to eliminate Jesus from the holiday.

Actually nothing can be further from the truth. In the history of the Christian church, the Greek spelling for Christ is ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, and for centuries the letters X or XP (Chi Rho) were often used to abbreviate or symbolize Christ. The Chi-Rho symbol, with the P and X put together, was widely used as a christian symbol since the Christianized Roman Emperor Constantine made it part of his standard. putting the symbol on the flags and shields of his army, starting in 312 AD. Some Christian churches, such as the Lutheran and Greek Orthodox still use the Chi-Rho symbol today.

 Since the early church, Christians have been using the X (Chi) symbol in place of Christ in many ways, such as spelling Christian as Xtian or Xian. The abbreviation Xmas actually comes from English speaking Christians who were well educated in Greek.

The early Christian church also noted the similarity of the X to the cross, which made it an even better way to shorten Christ. It's like using a cross in place of His name, as opposed to using a C as in Cmas. (Some scholars even think the cross that Jesus died on was X shaped and not the T shape we think of.)

Although it's not considered the formal way to spell Christmas, and you wouldn't want to use it on your Christmas cards, it really isn't as bad of an abbreviation as many Christians think. So don't worry when you see Xmas. Even if people are deliberately trying, they still can't eliminate Christ out of Christmas!


Wikipedia has a good discussion on this subject:

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