Nov 15, 2012 2:41 PM by JD Downing

Christmas vs. Xmas

Ever wonder why we sometimes write Xmas instead of Christmas?

Turns out, the X is actually derived from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστ?ς (translated as 'Christ').

Additionally, the 'Chi-Rho' symbol that looks like an 'X' superimposed over a 'P' is actually the Greek letters Chi (X) and Rho (P) which are the first letters in Christ's name. This symbol, like the fish, is almost as old as the Cross symbol of Christianity and can be found even in the early Christian Church catacombs in Rome, scratched on the walls. So, from very early times Christians have used the Greek letter that looks like an X as an abbreviation of Christ.

Recently, some people have begun to object to the use of Xmas because they see it as 'crossing Christ out of Christmas' as though this is a modern practice attempting to appease other religious groups. However, the use of Xmas seems to have become widespread long ago, in the Middle Ages, when European religious clerics used it as a form of shorthand in their writings.

As a side note, even though we may write Xmas, it should be pronounced as Christmas, never as ex-mass.


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