A close up of snow

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.

A close up of a snow covered field

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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42 replies
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  1. Ayesha says:

    So sad people argue over stuff like this. Merry Christmas from your most recent subscriber! Love the wisdom and common sense on your blog. 🙂

    Reply
  2. KGk46 says:

    A great column. Too many people allow themselves to get angry, even inflamed and abusive about an X instead of celebrating the season in the spirit of joy and peace. A very thoughtful, timely and relevant reminder.

    Reply
  3. Melody says:

    Mary, I very
    seldom disagree with you, but on this point I must do so. Keeping Christ in our
    Christmas takes a conscious effort in our society today. It may seem like a little thing and may have a long tradition, but that doesn’t make it right. Removing His name from the word Christmas is disavowing that He is the true reason for the holiday.

    Reply
  4. Just Sayin'! says:

    “I think that the Almighty is above fussing about a silly abbreviation, especially a legitimate one.”
    I think you need to correct this sentence. 🙂

    Reply
    • egl4031 says:

      I stumbled over this sentence as well, but finally figured out that it’s not saying that he is up above and is fussing about a silly abbreviation, but rather, that he is above fussing about it – he’s bigger than that, he’s more mature, he’s above it.

      Reply
      • Guest says:

        You know, I had to read it several times myself to try to figure out what Just Sayin’ is talking about. You are right .. there is no “up” in there at all. You got it right, eg14031.

  5. Tonya says:

    Someone is offended enough to unsubscribe? Really? Our Savior knows our heart. I don’t think He’ll be giving us the third degree if we occasionally abbreviate the word for the holiday. I don’t know anyone who writes an X instead of the word Christ. They just write Xmas, like b-day for birthday. No malice intended, and He knows that.

    Reply
  6. Beverley says:

    Kudos to you Mary, about Xmas! I used to feel guilty about the abbreviation until I learned about the early Christian meanings of the symbol X, as you also stated. You go girl! God is more interested in our hearts and how we celebrate the birth of His son than what we call it. God bless.

    Reply
  7. Tonya says:

    Amen! I get so tired of people saying Xmas is taking the Christ out of Christmas. We live in a texting world. People abbreviate things constantly. We should be grateful aren’t abbreviating it XM like we have LOL or OMG or a myriad of other abbreviations. In my Budgetmap, I have Christmas abbreviated Xmas just because there’s not enough space to write out the whole word! The most important thing is that I’m saving for Christmas and tracking what I’m spending, not how I spell it.

    Reply
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