A few years ago I wrote a little piece for the magazine I edit for The Faith Mission. As I have seen a lot of comment already in blogs and on Facebook, about the use of the word Xmas, I thought it apt to repurpose the article for Slices of my Life.
The Xmas or Christmas?
There are few things more joyous than seeing children playing in the snow! Making a big X with their little bodies, while lying down, many enjoy making the imprint of “snow angels”. But it was another ‘X’ which vexed one of my friends recently.
She remarked: “Every time I see Xmas, instead of Christmas, I cringe. X stands for something unknown. Christ is royalty, not an unknown.”
Another echoed the feelings of many: “With that X, it is as if they are crossing out Christ from Christmas.”
I used to feel exactly the same. But then I learned something which changed my feelings. Now, whenever I see ‘Xmas’ I say: “Jesus IS in this, even if the people who wrote it are too rushed to write the full word, or do not understand.”
This became my perspective when I learned about the Greek lettering that makes up Christ’s name.
X is the first letter of the Greek word “XPICTOC” (pronounced Christos – Greek: Χριστός), which means “Christ”. This letter is called “chi”.
It would have been understood by early Christians as a sign meaning ‘Christ’, especially when it was combined with a P shape (the Greek letter Rho) which was the second letter in ‘Christ’ in Greek. The Chi-Rho symbol (P with an X across the vertical stalk) has for centuries reminded Christians of the one who died to save us.
So now, when you see the word Xmas, don’t let your spirit sink. Instead of focussing on the thought that so many appear either to regard Christ as “X – the unknown”, or to cross him out of Christmas, think of Christos our Redeemer! The word Xmas need not be a stumbling block. Turn it into a stepping stone, to lift you to higher praise of our wonderful Jesus!