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.
To quibble about the abbreviation “Xmas” is to be silly, if not ridiculous. It’s a shortcut, 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 Xmas or Xmas.
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 New Year, too!
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