Yesterday I posted a farce about a Politically Correct Christmas taken to the extreme. Sometimes I wonder when we’ll get to that stage… as far off as it sounds… I believe, to an extent, it will happen. Why? Because, in general, we’re a society that doesn’t like conflict, we want everyone to be happy BUT… in an effort not to offend anyone or a particular group(s) of people, the message looses it’s flavour. Instead of representing something… it reflects nothing.
On the other hand, I’d like to address something that some within the Religious groups out there seem to love to have conflict over. Some have a tendency to jump all over this during this time of the year. This particular topic has been known to cause smoke to come out of people’s ears!
I had an epiphany of sorts a few years ago about this particular topic and feel like I need to help a few more people see the light. Ignorance is not bliss… it just makes “us” Christians look _____! You fill in the blank.
Have you ever jumped down someone for saying, “Merry Xmas!” to you or writing it on a card they sent you? I have. Come on, it’s OK to admit. I’m not judging you.
I was raised to believe that, “Merry Xmas” meant we were crossing out Christ or taking Christ out of Christmas. I’m sure you’ve heard that explanation a thousand times, but have you taken the time to dig into the history of the phrase?
My Mom said something interesting when she was sharing her testimony at a ladies Bible study at my church a while ago. She had always cut the ends of the pot roast off before putting it in the pan, as did her Mother and her Mother’s Mother. One day she wondered why they did this before cooking it, so she asked. Her Grandmother replied… “Because the roasts never fit in the pan!” Over the years the pans got bigger and the roasts actually fit but something had become a tradition and they were doing it without even knowing why.
That started me thinking…
I used to let “Xmas” bother me, to permeate my belief system without even knowing why, it became a tradition to despise and even debate about.
So I did a little digging of my own. Did you know that by the 15th Century,”Xmas” had emerged as a widely used symbol for Christmas?!
Let me explain.
First of all, the Greek letter for Christ (Cristos) is very similar to the letter X – Χριστός, is Christ in Greek. A symbol that was used as early as the 4th century by Emperor Constantine.
Secondly, in the early part of the 1400’s, the printing press with movable type was invented. In the early days this was all done by hand and was very tedious and very, very expensive. As a result, abbreviations were common.
In fact… the church began to use the abbreviation X for the word “Christ” to cut down on the cost of the production of books and pamphlets. From there, the abbreviation moved into general use in newspapers and other publications, and “Xmas” became an accepted way of printing “Christmas” (along with the abbreviations Xian and Xianity). Even Webster’s dictionary acknowledges that the abbreviation Xmas was in common use by the middle of the sixteenth century.
There is no grand scheme to dilute Christianity by promoting the use of Xmas instead of Christmas. It is not a modern invention to try to convert Christmas into a secular day, nor is it a device to promote the commercialism of the holiday season. Its origin is thoroughly rooted in the heritage of the Church. It is simply another way to say Christmas, drawing on a long history of symbolic abbreviations used in the church.
In fact, as with other abbreviations used in common speech or writing (such as Mr. or etc.), the abbreviation “Xmas” should be pronounced “Christmas” just as if the word were written out in full, rather than saying “exmas.”
Understanding this use of Christian symbolism might help us modern day Xians focus on more important issues of the Faith during this time of year, and bring a little more Peace to the Xmas Season.
Now that you are a little more informed… it seems a tad silly to get all up in arms about something so largely irrelevant and in fact something that we Christians began in the first place!
I have one last thing to say to the Christian crowd reading this… As someone who has worked in the service industry (tourism, retail & food) almost all of her life… “We” Christians DO NOT have a great reputation and it’s our own doing. “We” are known as cheap and demanding. A friend of mine who managed a popular clothing store once said,
“The majority of the Sunday “church crowd” is much more rude and mean than any other time of the week. Please use courtesy and know that you are a representation of Christ even when you shop. Please be nice, retail workers need Christ too!”
Rather than boycotting, picketing, getting offended and arguing this Christmas — let’s show some love. Love like Christ did! Help me show the world that we Christians are not cheap and demanding, rude or ignorant! Who wants to join me in starting a new trend for 2011?!