Christ in Christmas is Not Going Anywhere

December 19, 2012
We have been living in a culture for the last couple of decades in which everyone is worried about offending one another. Our society has become one with an “I don’t agree with you, but I don’t want to stand up for what I believe and upset you” mentality. This has created a domino effect in the mindset of people that, like most arguments, when you examine the source and intent, began as simply a big misunderstanding. It goes something like this: People have different beliefs. Other people don’t want to offend them with their beliefs. That group then fluffs the way they portray what they believe so they don’t anger the first group. This causes others to get riled up and accuse the fluffing group of going against their beliefs and not having standards, thus leading to offense anyways.
Are you still trucking along with me? If not, here is a prime example: Christmas versus Xmas (with a little non-confrontational “Happy Holidays!” and “Season’s Greetings!” thrown into the pot).
Let me first start off by saying that, yes, Christmas has become highly secularized and the focus on the holiday’s original intent has shifted quite significantly. But I also like to think, that even though some extra Christ-centered refocusing is never a bad idea when dealing with any aspect of life, as long as the Church (signifying the body, not the building) is still standing, and Christians are still living off the Word of God, Christ will always remain in Christmas. It does not make any difference what kind of marketing the department stores do, or what the winter greetings and salutations ring, the people who are truly celebrating the holiday for itself will not do so without the remembrance of Christ.
From the looks of the word X-mas, when viewing it not as a letter, but as a symbol, it looks like the goal was to literally “X” out Christ’s name from the word. Someone was not well informed, misunderstood it, got offended, and the rumor was passed from generations that this was a non-religious secondary name for the holiday and that it was evil. However, what these people did not realize in their assumption was that there is actually a legitimate, scholarly excuse that is not what these people were thinking.
The Greek word for Christ is “χριοτοϛ” with the first letter being what looks like an English “X” but is really the Greek letter for “Chi”. Many religious scholars would frequently substitute out the full name for Christ with the beginning of the word, “Chi”. This practice could be analogous for how a medical person may write the abbreviation BP for blood pressure on patient charts. It is easy, timelier, and frankly, does not require as much work.
People have picked this technique up from the religious scholars and, like a game of telephone, time has passed and word of mouth caused misunderstandings. People got bad impressions and the original, innocent purpose of the shortened word was distorted.
But personally, why not just say “Merry Christmas?” Honestly, saying Christmas is just easier than Xmas anyways. If we are trying to be lazy here, just say it normally. It uses fewer muscles in your throat and mouth. And as far as writing it, scratch x-mas on a box to throw in the basement because, yeah, it is quicker and who does it hurt? For anything else though, the word Christmas is just a beautiful word to write. Why would I want to rob it of its charm? It is a merry word, Christmas is, and I am just not in the business of stealing beauty.

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