Christmas vs. Xmas

Discuss word origins and meanings.

Christmas vs. Xmas

Post by Archived Topic » Tue Dec 14, 2004 1:54 pm

Does anyone have any ideas about the origin of the the word XMAS in that particular form?
Submitted by Steve Jughes (Nederland- Texas)
_____________________________

My grand-daughter asked me today why "Christmas" and "Xmas" meant the same thing...and I had the devil of a time trying to give her an explanation! Can anyone suggest how "Xmas" came about (other than perhaps the wish of our Trans-Atlantic cousins to make everything more snappy?)(grin)
Submitted by Jonathan Bramwell-Smith (Congleton - England)
______________________________

How does "X" replace Christ in this abreviation?
Submitted by Gary Raddysh (Chilliwack - Canada))
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Topic imported and archived

Christmas vs. Xmas

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Dec 14, 2004 2:34 pm

NOUN: Christmas.
ETYMOLOGY: From X, the Greek letter chi, first letter of Greek Khrstos, Christ. See Christ.
USAGE NOTE: Xmas has been used for hundreds of years in religious writing, where the X represents a Greek chi, the first letter of , “Christ.” In this use it is parallel to other forms like Xtian, “Christian.” But people unaware of the Greek origin of this X often mistakenly interpret Xmas as an informal shortening pronounced (ksms). Many therefore frown upon the term Xmas because it seems to them a commercial convenience that omits Christ from Christmas.

Hope that answers your question Jonathon
Reply from Leighton Harris (Cambridge - England)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Christmas vs. Xmas

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Dec 14, 2004 2:47 pm

Thank you. All this time and I never knew! Just goes to show that a classical education can sometimes be wasted!
Reply from Jonathan Bramwell-Smith (Congleton - England)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Christmas vs. Xmas

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Dec 14, 2004 3:01 pm

.. Leighton it is generally accepted that you quote your source when answering .. if such a source exists .. this has the added advantage of informing those, who may not know the different internet sources, where to look .. so I will do it for you >>>
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
WoZ of Aus 09/12/04
Reply from Wizard of Oz (Newcastle - Australia)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Christmas vs. Xmas

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Dec 14, 2004 3:14 pm

.. we could've just as easily cut and pasted the following >>>
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Xmas is an abbreviation for Christmas. It is derived from the word ×ÑÉÓÔÏÓ, transliterated as Christos, which is Greek for Christ. Greek is the language in which the whole New Testament was written.
Originally, Xmas was an abbreviation where the X represents the Greek letter chi, with a hard ch, which is the first letter of Christ's name in Greek. However, because of the modern interpretations of the letter X, many people are unaware of this and assume that this abbreviation is meant to drop Christ from Christmas.

In ancient Christian art X and XR (Chi Ro--the first two letters in Greek of Christos) abbreviate Christ's name. In many manuscripts of the New Testament, X abbreviates Christos (Xristos). The Oxford English Dictionary documents the use of this abbreviation back to 1551, fifty years before the first English colonists came to America and sixty years earlier than the completion of the King James Version of the Bible. At the same time, Xian and Xianity were in frequent use as abbreviations of Christian and Christianity.

The abbreviation is widely but not universally accepted; some view it as demeaning to Christ. Similarly, Xianity is sometimes used as the abbreviation for Christianity (although this usage is much less common than "Xmas").

In the animated television show Futurama, which is set in the 31st century, Xmas is the official name for the day formerly known as Christmas.

.. the message is simple .. post the word into the search engine of http://www.onelook.com/ and all will be revealed and you too can be an expert ... *laughing* ..

WiZ of Aus 09/12/04
Reply from Wizard of Oz (Newcastle - Australia)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Christmas vs. Xmas

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Dec 14, 2004 3:27 pm

The following is a letter to the editor (it was published, too, to my surprise) I wrote in response to another such letter that complained about the use of "Xmas" as being dismissive of Christ. This misguided individual ethnocentrically and narrowmindedly suggested we all use "Cmas" if we must abbreviate. The text follows:

I understand and fully agree with the point that Christmas has been made a hollow capitalistic shell of its former intent. The ads for consumer competition start as early as mid-October, and it seems the entire economy depends for its very survival on each of us placing a price tag on love. However, just as bad as corporate and politically correct zealotry almost ensuring we forget about Christ are those religious zealots who get their facts wrong.

I'm referring to Tamara Sodhurquist's letter printed in Christmas Day's Herald ("Isn't Jesus the reason for the season?" Dec. 25th). Ms. Sodhurquist claims that the spelling of Christmas as Xmas is taking Christ out of Christmas and, by the way, is partially responsible for nativity scene thieves and the degeneration of our world in general. There are enough fallacies in this idea to fill all the stockings of the world, so I'll just say she's entitled to her opinion about social entropy and leave it at that. But one glaring fact might put this whole petty notion to rest for good (and I should know better than to express such optimism, but it’s Christmas).

X as a substitute for the name of Christ comes from Greek, where the first letter of Christ is "chi." This is represented in Greek by a character that eventually became our letter X (and is pronounced like you're clearing your throat). People pressed for time or space or ink in early Christianity simply used the first letter of his name as a shortcut. So in reality, Ms. Sodhurquist's suggestion that we all use "Cmas" instead of "Xmas" is inaccurate at least, and to the more religiously sensitive, possibly even blasphemous. The Greeks had no letter C. Christ couldn't have spelled his own name with a C. Advertising people did not invent Xmas, the Greeks, in whose language the epistles and most of the original Bibles were written, did. On top of the facts, the X kinda looks like cross, doesn't it? That's a pretty good reminder of just who that abbreviation represents, isn't it?

I sympathize with all those of faith who are disturbed at the plight of society, and, as a teacher, I occasionally get to witness it first hand. But worse than the problem is any kind of misguided pettiness associated with an attempted solution. This energy needs to be directed at solutions that matter, at people and ideas with a potential to help. So keep praying, keep believing, and keep the faith, but remember, X marks the spot...C what I mean?
Reply from Nathan Lansing (Seattle - U.S.A.)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Christmas vs. Xmas

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Dec 14, 2004 3:41 pm

A final point, perhaps too obvious to have deserved mention - pronunciation.'Eksmas' is not permissible for Xmas; it should always and only be pronounced 'Christmas', just as 'etc' or '&c' is pronounced 'et cetera'.
Reply from John Barton (New Plymouth - New Zealand)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Christmas vs. Xmas

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Dec 14, 2004 3:54 pm

Christactly!
Reply from Leighton Harris (Cambridge - England)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Christmas vs. Xmas

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Dec 14, 2004 4:07 pm

Sorry Wiz,
That should have been:
'Christactly' Adv, perfectly in accord with fact.
Random House Dic. (<;)
Reply from Leighton Harris (Cambridge - England)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Christmas vs. Xmas

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Dec 14, 2004 4:21 pm

I have always wondered why the early Christian church chose December 25 to celebrate Christ’s birth when they knew it was also a pagan festival and that they were bound to be competing with the usual debauchery associated with that holiday. I suppose that if I were in charge, I might have picked a different date, but could this choice perhaps been a conscious attempt by the church to try to go head-to-head with the heathens?
______________________

Ken G –December 11, 2004

Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Christmas vs. Xmas

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Dec 14, 2004 4:34 pm

You go head-to-head with the heathens because you want to get rid of them. Notice Easter and some other Catholic/Christian holidays that coincide with other, more ancient pagan festivals. Usurp the old with the new and hopefully the old will wither and die. Worked quite well for a while.

NdL 11Dec2004
Reply from Nathan Lansing (Seattle - U.S.A.)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Christmas vs. Xmas

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Dec 14, 2004 4:47 pm

"The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown.
A fascinating blend of myth, modern and pagan history, wrapped up with esoteric and mystic societies, the promotion of Christianity by the Roman Empire (in sublimated form for political reasons) the Roman propaganda that led to the falling from favour of the old Female Deities, the re-packaging of pagan rites and festivals to wean them away from The Earth Mother and Moon Goddess...fascinating.
Nathan appears to be correct, in that it is believable that Caesar Augusta instigated a campaign to divert the pagans he had conquered from their established religions. He thus adopted Christianity as his vehicle, but with modifications to its original form (which if the fables decsribed by Dan Brown have any credence were ORIGINALLY inclusive of female worship) and so what then evolved into the (Roman) Catholic Church continued to enforce this direction.
At least there's no hint of Alien intervention, but it's a fascinating novel, and cored in a lot of truth.
Rob
Reply from Robert Masters (Asia - Thailand)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Christmas vs. Xmas

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Dec 14, 2004 5:14 pm

This is the sort of stuff I use to read myself to sleep. I am sure that by now this topic has been breached elsewhere, but this is along the same lines.

Just as the "X" is used as the initial for Christ, the lowercase alpha, "a", is the initial for adonai (translated). This "a" is drawn as a fish... hence the fish stickers and such.

I just eat this stuff up. And fish, too.
Reply from Eric Lamb (Fenton - U.S.A.)
_______________________________________________________________________________

Because the Greek letter "chi," which is the initial of Christ, is written as "X."
Reply from K Allen Griffy (Springfield, IL - U.S.A.)
_______________________________________________________________________________

I should have added this to my original response, but I forgot about it. One of my (many, I admit) pet peeves is people who criticize the use of "Xmas," because "it takes the 'Christ' out of 'Christmas'"! Actually, using "X" doesn't remove "Christ" at all--it merely replaces it with the Greek initial. It's exactly the same as the "monogram" you often see on the altar at some churches. What looks like "XP" is actually the "Chi-Rho," and it comes from the first two letters (in Greek) of "Christ."

Now I feel better, having gotten that off my chest. *G*
Reply from K Allen Griffy (Springfield, IL - U.S.A.)
_______________________________________________________________________________

Not only is it a very old and established way of writing "Christmas", but according to various books on English grammar, since it is an abbreviation it should NEVER be pronounced "ex-mas".
Reply from Simon Beck (London - UK )
_______________________________________________________________________________

from Random House online:

Usage. The abbreviation XMAS for Christmas dates from the mid-16th cent. The X is the Greek letter chi, the initial in the word Xpi s t ós (Christos) "Christ." In spite of a long and respectable history, today XMAS is objectionable to many, perhaps because of its associations with advertising. It is not used in formal writing.

izzy_cohen@bmc.com
_______________________________________________________________________________

From The Maven's Archive:

The written shortening Xmas for "Christmas" is quite old, and is part of a large group of abbreviations based on Greek letters.

If we recall, the letter H in the profane oath Jesus H. Christ is derived from the Greek letter eta (which looks like the Roman letter "H"), as the second letter of the word Jesus when written in Greek.

Similarly, the name Christ has for a thousand years been abbreviated as X, which is not the Roman letter "eks," but the Greek letter "chi," standing for the first letter of Christ when written in Greek as "Christos" (as transcribed into Roman letters). Some of the words using this abbreviation are X, Xp (Greek chi-rho, or "Chr"), and Xt for "Christ," Xren for "christen," and Xtian for "Christian."

The use of Xmas for "Christmas" is first found in the sixteenth century, in the slightly expanded spelling X'temmas; the Xmas form was in use by the eighteenth century. The X has always been used in religious contexts, and was often lavishly decorated in manuscripts, for example the glorious Chi-Rho page of the Book of Kells, the ninth-century illuminated gospels. The assumption that the abbreviation is somehow "weak" or "irreligious" since it "removes" the Christ from "Christmas" is a thoroughly modern idea.

It should come as no surprise that throughout its history, Xmas has been found more often in letters or other informal works where space is valued. We should note that Xmas and other X abbreviations were usually found in the writings of educated people who knew their Greek.

We should also note, though, that in modern use Xmas is most commonly found in advertisements and the like. For this and other reasons, the abbreviation is viewed with prejudice, and so it would be wise for its use to be confined to informal contexts, its long history notwithstanding.
Reply from Leif Thorvaldson (Eatonville - U.S.A.)
_______________________________________________________________________________

Thanks for the info everyone. On the afternoon of the last day of school before the holiday break I wrote down the homework on the board COMPLETE YOUR HOMEWORK PACKET AND HAVE A MERRY XMAS.
I wrote x simply to conserve chalk mess and save time (I couldn't get those little darlings out of the room fast enough if you know what I mean. A few children gasped and said I'd committed a sin by writing xmas. I will be sure to share this information with my students, who will probably forget it in seconds if they listen at all.
Anyway, thanks.
Reply from christine Gilpatrick (Cornwall - U.S.A.)
_______________________________________________________________________________

i am glad this information was here i go to a christian school and one of my homework Q's was "is writing Xmas disrespectful?" i never thought it was i always thought x was an abbreviation for christ.
anyways thanx for the info,

jana lord
_______________________________________________________________________________

Thanks for this information! A teacher at our Catholic school has been teaching the kids that Xmas is crossing out Christ. I knew in my heart this was wrong, and you know how hard it is -- once teacher says something they are right! Thanks again!
Reply from ( - )
_______________________________________________________________________________

It seems to me that for all practical purposes and since most people do not know Greek the end result is still the same, it gets Jesus out of the picture. Who even though about such a abbreviation anyway?! The word Christmas is not that long so as to need an abbreviation. By the way the Xmas version is mostly used in advertising and sales pitches and in the politically correct lingo of today's world, reflecting an aversion to acknowledging Jesus' Sovereignty.
Andreas

tricon99@yahoo.com
_______________________________________________________________________________

Here’s a friendly spelling hint to the last poster; that would be "Yahweh" and "Adonai".. As for the whole Xmas thing, it's all well and good that this practice has gone on for centuries. My problem with it is that I doubt that most of the people are using it for that high and lofty purpose. It is unnecessary shorthand that may or may not have more sinister implications. In any case it should be refrained from usage in all but informal communication. And of course if you wish to get really technical Christmas is in and of itself a shortening of Christ's Mass.
Reply from ( - )
_______________________________________________________________________________

As I (firstly) studied classical Greek in school and (secondly) used to live in a Greek Orthodox enviroment for several years (though being no believer myself) I can only strongly support the explanation given above by Leif Thorvaldson. Every single word of his posting is true and correct!
Reply from ( - )
_______________________________________________________________________________

I would like to add that on this day we have come to celebrate as "Christmas", it was Christ who was born, not "X". While I can acknowledge and appreciate that the letter "X" (the Greek letter ‘Chi’) was viewed as a sovereign symbol in Christ's day, today it is not. If you subscribe to the notion that intention is everything, and I do, then you would have to believe that when people substitute an 'x' today, they are doing so simply to abbreviate; not because they are privy to its real meaning. If we are going to celebrate Christmas, and take the time out of our busy lives to shop, and enjoy other festivities, can we not also take an additional 2 seconds to honor the Man we are thus celebrating by spelling out His name?
Reply from ( - )
_______________________________________________________________________________

I think it simply comes down to this - what the abbreviation X means to people today rather than what the abbreviation X meant to people in ancient times. While I am comforted by the origins of the abbreviation X in Xmas traces back in ancient Greek writing to actually stand for Jesus Christ, I believe that the abbreviation X today carries a different, less reverent meaning. When was the last time you read or wrote "I am a Xtian and I believe X died on the cross for my sins." (Consider also the origin of the swastika as a holy symbol to many different ancient peoples and religions and the meaning it represents today). How about this for an idea - try using Cmas as an alternate abbreviation for Christmas? (The beginning letter "C" here stands for the first letter of Christ when written in the modern English alphabet). I have used Cmas for several years now and have found it to be immediately recognizable and very effective. Here's my jingle:

When you abbreviate Christmas, don't X out Christ.
Spell it Cmas. Keep Christ in Christmas.
Reply from ( - )
_______________________________________________________________________________

It's really sad when Christians use any excuse they can to push anti-Semitic ideas like one of the above posters. Get a grip-- Jews are not out to get Christians! This kind of rhetoric is exactly what has caused centuries of violence against Jews. I was born and raised Christian. The Jesus I know was Jewish and not Christian. It is really all the more disturbing to me that others didn't say something to reject this kind of racist argument.

Christ by the way is not Jesus' name. It too is an appelation, a title, so in other words an abbreviation for the role as savior, redeemer, and messiah. If you know X means Christ, why go out of your way to perceive an insult where none was intended unless it is to allow you to feel self-righteous? Certainly not something Jesus would condone.

Rev. Scout
Reply from ( - )
_______________________________________________________________________________

Whoa, hold back Rev. Scout for just a moment and let me explain. First, I am a Christian who is not against Jews, not in any way trying to push anti-Semitic ideas, rhetoric, or violence, do not believe Jews are out to get Christians, and I give full apology if my post came off that way because it most certainly was not intended. I’m sorry.

Here are my points very simply in a nutshell:

POINT 1: Symbols used in the past can take on new meanings today.
Example 1:
@ meaning unit of weight equaling 1 arroba (also amphora) in 1492.
@ meaning changed to more modern "at the price of" and more modern still as the separator symbol in email addresses.

Example 2:
The symbol “e� in the past had no significant meaning, now “e� is an abbreviation for electronic as in email, ecommerce, and many more.

Example 3:
The Greek name for Jesus, Iesous, adds up to 888. So the numbering to arrive at 888 is from Greek:
I = 10 (iota)
e = 8 (eta)
s = 200 (sigma)
o = 70 (omicron)
u = 400 (upsilon)
s = 200 (sigma)
That Jesus' name in Greek adds up to 888 was mentioned in the Christian additions to the Sibylline Oracles at least as early as the Second Century. Now 888 is given no significant meaning.

POINT 2: The abbreviation X traces back in ancient Greek writing to actually stand for Jesus Christ (which most people are unaware) and today the abbreviation X carries different, less reverent meanings such as criss-cross, crossing, and cross out (which most people are aware).

POINT 3: Why not change Xmas to Cmas to satisfy the abbreviators and end the objections?

Also, please substitute in my original post the following sentence: (Consider the origin of the @ symbol as a unit of weight equaling 1 arroba (also amphora) in 1492 and its popular use today as the separator symbol in email addresses).
Reply from ( - )
_______________________________________________________________________________

in 1960 we started using xmas for christmas sales in our ads and the people were mad and did not come to our sales,we stopped quickly. merry christmas,jim schude;jmsschude AT yahoo.com
Reply from ( - )
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Christmas vs. Xmas

Post by Mike Collins » Sun Jan 09, 2005 5:49 am

This thread reminded me of a syndicated column I wrote a few years ago. I am a Christian author and the following is the particular column I thought of...

Mike Collins

X-MAS

I've heard many people talk about how they hate to see the word Xmas being used in the place of the word Christmas. Many of these folks become extremely angry when they see it, and make accusations that a secular society is trying to remove the name of Christ during the very holiday in which we celebrate His birth. One of their favorite sayings is, "Let's keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas." Although I have no doubt there are many who would love nothing more than to remove all references to Christ, whether it be related to a national holiday, or within private conversation, however, this is certainly not the case with the word Xmas.

First of all, the word Christmas comes from Cristes maesse, or "Christ's Mass." Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus for members of the Christian religion. Most historians peg the first celebration of Christmas to Rome in 336 A.D where Christian leaders set the date to December 25 in an attempt to eclipse the popular pagan holiday “Saturnalia” that celebrates the winter solstice.

Next, we find that X actually means Christ. The X of Xhedos is the first letter in Greek for Christ, and was a common symbol used by the early Christian Church. As a matter of fact, it was frequently used as a holy symbol, sort of like the fish symbol that represents Christ today...which by the way, if you take a closer look, is itself an altered version of X. The rest of the word 'hedos' means 'sweetness' or 'joy'.

The substitution "X"mas for "Christ"mas has been in use throughout the world since the 1500's. The tradition of using Xmas instead of Christmas began in the early Christian church as they tied the symbol of Christ with the mass celebrating His birth. As a matter of fact, X-MAS actually means "celebration of Christ", and has no less meaning or translation when compared to the word Christmas. In Webster's Ninth Edition Collegiate Dictionary, Xmas is defined as: Xmas 'Kris-mes n [X (symbol for Christ, fr. The Greek letter chi (X), initial of Christos Christ) + -Mas (in Christmas)] (1551) : Christmas. Did you notice the pronunciation guide for Xmas? It is “Kris-mes,” and is pronounced Christmas, not ex-Mas. Also in the same dictionary we find: Xn is defined as Christian, and Xnty is defined as Christianity.

We should keep in mind the important thing; why we do celebrate Christmas or Xmas…I too believe we should keep Christ in Christmas, but I think of it more literally rather than literarily. It is not up to any secular society or government to decide what we believe in, and more importantly in whom we believe…these are our decisions, these are our personal ideals and faiths. Regardless of how a sale banner for a secular store spells Christmas, the meaning of this holiday will always be the same in my heart.

If you're seeking answers to an unknown factor in your life, use the basic mathematical equation. Hopefully, you will find the "unknown" for the following: X + you = eternal life. When you do, you will have not only found the reason for this season, but the full meaning of life.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Christmas vs. Xmas

Post by haro » Wed Jan 12, 2005 12:41 am

Mike, the fish symbol also has another connection to Jesus Christ, in that the first two Greek letters of the Greek word for fish, ichthys, namely I (iota) and X (chi), traditionally stand for Iesous Christos (a bit like X (chi) and P (rho) often stand for the first two letters of Christos).
On the other hand, I can't quite see what 'xhedos' has to do in this context.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Hans Joerg Rothenberger
Switzerland

Post Reply