Crossing out Christ in “X-mas”?

xmas

 A student once asked me, “Is it wrong to shorten Christmas with X-mas? Someone told me that it is a modern propaganda to remove Christ in the picture. Is it true?” Personally, I don’t find it wrong unless you really intended to do so. But the use of “X-mas” is still okay with me, well at least, historically speaking.

Have you ever wondered what this means?

labarum

We find this symbol usually in churches and clerical vestments. Actually, the symbol is a combination of Chi (X) and Rho (P), the first two letters used when we spell the name “Christ” in Greek (Χριστός). It was first used in the fourth century AD as a symbol for Christ. The Roman vexillum or military standard called labarum usually bears this symbol.

So “X-mas” is not a problem to me since historically, “X” may still mean Christ. Well, this may seem trivial but such understanding could make us interested about early Christian symbols. These symbols help us to understand what our forefathers basically believe about Jesus. Among these symbols is the acrostic IXTHYS which is translated from Greek as “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.” These symbols trace their origin from a heritage that goes back to the time of the apostles.

I assured my student that X-mas may still be acceptable as long as he still keep Christ as the very meaning of this celebration. In fact, the force that really makes Christ out of the picture is rather the growing secularism and commercialism that gradually corrupt the religious meaning of Christmas.  As long as we do not reduce Christmas into a mere season for parties and shopping sales, the true spirit of Christmas would still remain in us even when you simply send your friends a greeting card that reads “Merry X-mas!”

xmas stamp

An 1898 “X-mas Edition” Canadian Stamp that bears a map of the British Empire. Contrary to popular belief, X-mas is not a modern invention but in fact has already been in used since 16th century.

One response to “Crossing out Christ in “X-mas”?

  1. I am doing genealogical research and know that Spanish priests used X to represent any name that started with Christ–example Xo meant Chrtistopher! That was in the 17th century!!

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