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Don’t Fuss About the X in Xmas

Every year about this time I get a dozen or so, shall we say, “emotionally packed” messages from people wanting to take me to task for referring to Christmas as “Xmas.” I’ve received more than my share of angry messages given the few times I have actually made this reference in print.

Even though my first reaction is to be irritated, I try to respond to each in a calm and collected manner. However, I have decided in the interest of time (I don’t have a lot to spare), to make one collective response in advance, in this column.

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Some rights reserved by steve p2008

To quibble about the abbreviation “Xmas” is to me silly, if not ridiculous. It’s a short cut, a quick way to type or write a long word. I abbreviate all the time and if my mind is really racing I even abbreviate abbreviations. It’s not unusual for my mind to race faster than my fingers can keep up. 

I often use the @ symbol in place of the word “at.” In fact, I’ve been known to reach for the ampersand (&) in favor of the three-stroke word “and.” I often use my initials “mh” to close a quick email to a friend.

(I wish there was such an abbreviation for “stewardesses,” which is not easy to type. Perhaps that’s because it is the longest word in the English language that is typed with the left hand only.)

As for “Xmas,” go ahead and call me naïve, but I do not believe there is some heretical message or commie plot involved trying to, as some insist, take the “Christ” out of Christmas.

It is interesting to note that the symbol “X” is the first Greek character in Christ’s name. And “X” was the secret sign of a person’s devotion to Christ in times when people were persecuted for being Christians.

The word “Christ” and its compounds, including “Christmas,” have been abbreviated for at least the past 1,000 years—long before the modern “Xmas” was commonly used. Possibly this is why Xmas is accepted over Cmas or Qmas.

The term “Christmas” is not a scriptural one. It is unlikely that our Savior was born on December 25th, the traditional date for celebrating Saturnalia, the advent of Saturn or Tammuz in ancient Babylonian mythological lore.

I think that the Almighty is above fussing about a silly abbreviation, especially a legitimate one. He inhabits our praise and our worship … no matter what time of year or the way we spell a word.

So, to one and all I say Merry Xmas. Happy Xew Xear, too!

Question: Christmas is next week! How are you celebrating the holiday? Share your plans here

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42 replies
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  1. Dave says:

    Thank you very much for allowing us to see your opinion on this subject.
    In the mass amount of information available on the internet, it becomes
    difficult at times to determine which sites are worth viewing or subscribing
    to and which come from sources of questionable character. If any other religion
    had expressed concern over a perceived insult, I am sure you would have been
    graciously apologetic instead of the “get over it” attitude conveyed in your
    article.

    No anger, just disappointed concern for your lack of understanding of the
    magnificent love the Father expressed for you 2000 years ago.

    Merry Christmas from your most recent unsubscribers.

    Reply
    • Beverley says:

      Hey Dave, you have got to be kidding …….God wants us to spend our time and energy fighting His battles that are worth fighting.

      Reply
  2. Melissa says:

    To me the “X” represented the angle of the cross as Jesus carried it on his shoulder to the crucifixion, thus I never took offense at its use to shorten the word Christmas. Like the half full/half empty glass, it’s all how you look at it!

    Reply
  3. Jo says:

    Lack of informing themselves before getting on the bandwagon is far more prevalent in people nowadays. I am amazed at how very little people know or go to the trouble of learning. Even college students currently in school! I am embarrassed when I watch “Jaywalking” on the Leno show and questions are posed that even 20-somethings straight out of college or currently attending do not have the answers to the simplest of them. Bless their hearts…..

    I’ve long been aware of the X in Xmas and it’s meaning. And I do apologize if I come across as sounding arrogant. I am not trying to. I just find that learning/education doesn’t stop once having graduated from high school (as in my case) or college.

    Reply
  4. Annie says:

    Sticks and stones..words don’t mean a lot but actions do. So no matter how you say it, it means the same. Merry Christmas or Merry Xmas.. I was dismayed to learn that people were criticizing using Merry Xmas the day is the same the meaning is the same. Merry Xmas to you merry Mary.

    Reply
  5. Norma Jean says:

    Bravo, Mary! Our minister mentioned this very thing in her sermon one Sunday. God Bless you and Merry Christmas, or Xmas!

    Reply
  6. june says:

    Celebrating Christmas this year in Obendorf, Austria, the village where Silent Night was written and played first in 1818. With my children and grandchildren here, the Kristkindl, or Christ child brings presents and sometimes the candle-decorated tree as well, on Christmas Eve after supper. The adults go to Midnight Mass. Then often Santa comes in the night with stockings and a few more presents to be opened on Christmas morning.
    We are truly blessed to have the best of both worlds, sacred Advent music and pop US Christmas songs!
    Happy & holy Christmas to all!

    Reply
    • Guest says:

      Oh, I would love to be there this Christmas! When I was in Salzburg several years ago I tried to envision what it would be like this time of year. Merry Christmas to you, too!

      Reply
  7. Jerry Cline says:

    There are parts not stated in your explanation: X does stand for what you stated, it all started in Greece (that part of the world) after all, and when they met, they were in mass or at mas, so when they said the ‘word’ ‘X’ followed by ‘Mass’ they were saying in their language, ‘Christ-mass’. At the time, Xmass was not a ‘toy celebration’ it was an acceptance and recognition of a religious belief; Think of it as accepting other peoples’ beliefs as well as your own. tx -jerry cline or c_ (line) as I prefer. taCare ;-]

    Reply
  8. Diane says:

    Celebrating Christmas: We celebrate the day after Xmas day so families aren’t rushed and can spend time w/ In-laws and friends on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Our gift exchange is to anonymously write one good thing about each person on a slip of paper (write the name of the recipient on each slip). Each person or family brings a small box with slit in it in which to place the papers. It is a heart warming gift that lasts all year as we re-read the notes.

    Reply
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