Is there really any truth to the saying that when someone writes “X-Mas” that they are intending to keep “Christ” out of Christmas? Is it true when people write “X-Mas” that they are claiming to be non-religious and yet still celebrating a religious holiday? Should Christians be offended when we see others shortening the name of our Savior and taking the word “Christ” out of Christmas?
I admit I’ve always been a bit insulted when I see the shortened version of Christmas. I’ve always justified my offense with the statement that Christ gave us His ALL, including His life, why would anyone save time and shorten His name? Surely the Savior deserves His full name to be written out during this precious time of remembrance! This year I decided to dig a bit deeper and search for the truth behind this issue.
I confess… I was definitely surprised!
The “X-Mas” abbreviation is neither recent nor disrespectful as many people believe. The usage of “X-Mas” has been in use for centuries, possibly as far back as the very beginning of Christianity. Its Greek origins can even be traced back to the Roman alphabet. The Greek word for “Christ” is “chi” and the Greek letter for “chi” is represented by the symbol “X” in the modern Roman alphabet.
The fact remains – the X-Mas abbreviation was NOT created to slight Christianity or fashioned for the purpose of demeaning Christ in any manner. While the abbreviation is definitely an old form of writing from a very different language, it may still cause offense to those who do not know the history of the abbreviation.
Study the facts and be ready to share when you see someone who feels insulted by this abbreviation. Extend grace to those who choose to shorten the word “Christmas” because they may have absolutely no intention of keeping the “Christ” out of Christmas and were just quick to write the word down.
And most importantly, the method in which someone writes the word “Christmas” is NOT an appropriate time to judge anyone. Even if you are still offended by the use of “X-Mas”, this is not a sin and we are not called to judge anyone based on their mode of writing. We do not know their hearts or their intent when abbreviating the word Christmas and therefore we are not to cast judgment based on something so futile. What we can do is extend grace to those who may offend us and remind ourselves that the abbreviated form has been used for centuries and really does have origins in Christ.
Other fun facts about “X-Mas”:
- Chi is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός which translates in English to Christ.
- The –mas in the word Christmas is a Latin-originated Old English term for “mass”.
- The expression X-Mas was very popular for religious scribes, who are believed to have started the abbreviation for Christmas.
- The XP symbol is derived from the Greek letter “X” (Chi) and “P” (Rho). This christogram is formed by overlaying the two letters to create a monogram. Although the XP monogram is not exactly a Christian cross, the Chi-Rho letters do resemble a cross.
- The Chi-Rho symbol was used by Greek scribes to mark respected or significant passages.
- The wreath around the Chi-Rho symbol signifies the victory over the resurrection over death.