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 BUTin 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?!


I'm the Cool Mom of 4, Married to the Preacher Man, but at times I'm a little more Sass than Saint!

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  1. Completely enlightening, I had no idea about the origins of the abbrev. But I never got up in arms over its use before… I simply attributed it to a certain degree of ignorance. Now knowing the truth–that's even better!

  2. Thanks Elly. 🙂

    I have a tendency to try to push the envelope with this topic now that I know the meaning behind it.

    I've caused riots to ensue with Christians more than happy to point out how much of a heathen I've become.

    Which we know is not the case, far from it, I'm just tired of living up to the expectations the world has of "us".

  3. My cousin is a Methodist minister & he wrote a blog about this very thing this week. Such a great topic!

    As for your last paragraph….I couldn't agree more. I worked as a waitress through college. Large church groups would often come in to eat. They were often very demanding & would leave me a Bible verse tract as a tip & often berate me for working on Sundays & holidays. They thought I was a sinner for working but they were fine with eating there….though that meant I had to work! It was one of those things that made me shake my head b/c I think their heart was in the right place but they did NOTHING that would make a non-Christian want to be come one!

  4. Great post! I never knew where it started and it's nice to finally read about it.

    Also, I'd like to point out that currently in my life, the people that cause me the most amount of pain and heart attack are all people who claim to be "good Christians". It's unfortunate but it's true when your friend said; "The majority of the Sunday "church crowd" is much more rude and mean than any other time of the week." I know she was speaking of shopping but it hit home for me. It's really sad 🙁

  5. True there is meaning behind the "X", but do most people who use "Xmas" understand it? Probably not. They likely do not know they are, in fact, putting "Christ" in "Christmas". So, it begs the question, if they do not know what it symbolizes, are they then not taking the "Christ" out?

    Things that make you go hmmmmm….

  6. I appreciate this perspective. My hubby learned Greek in seminary and that's where I first started to understand the X abbreviation. I also appreciate what you said about how Christians can be awful customers during this season and the encouragement to "Love like Christ did". EXCELLENT!

  7. I also have to agree with what Alex said – 'currently in my life, the people that cause me the most amount of pain and heart attack are all people who claim to be "good Christians".' it's a shame but it's often true….

  8. Merry & Alex, it's unfortunate that a few bad apples have spoiled the fruit basket. I think that's part of why I blog, I want to show people that Christians can be normal… like me! lol 🙂 I don't want people to throw out the baby with the bath water.

    I am trying my hardest to help people see that Christians are not this – we can only change people's minds by our own actions. This is a big thing to us and to our church, as church leaders we not only teach it but lead by example. You are the closest thing to Jesus that people are going to see.

    Actions speak louder than words. People aren't going to listen to what we have to say if our lifestyle doesn't back it up.

    Maybe I can help a few people along the way…

  9. JakiYo, I'm not sure if too many people are doing it out of spit, wringing their hands and doing an evil laugh while writing out Xmas on their Christmas cards.

    What I was trying to say with this post is that we shouldn't let it (aiming that at Christians in general) bug us so much, there are bigger things to worry about in this life.

    Some people, Christian or not, have a tendency to jump on bandwagons or causes and not even know why or haven't known the full story. Making a judgment call on a little bit of information or misinformation.

    I'm sure we all have done that from time to time.

    I've just learned, through experience that you can't judge a book by its cover. Most times you'll never know the full story behind why someone did something but before we, as humans, jump down their throats or pick up our pickets, we should do some due diligence and SELAH – pause.

    Could our energy be better spent doing something else?

  10. That is an awesome post. I got into a debate the other day about a word that I had used in a blog post. I am part of a group where every year they do their own little Christmas even and instead of saying Christmas they called is —-mas ( I left the name blank as to not cause problems).

    I had a lady jump all over me and even stop talking to me ( a friend of mine) because I used this word to promote the event. It is a fun sharing event , but she ranted and raved saying we were mocking Christmas but we are not. We hare just doing something fun with it.

    There are many groups, churches, organizations and so on the have events this time of year that change up the name to fit their event. It isn't about Mocking Christmas it is about sharing, giving, loving and more. It is all in fun not in being negative or derogatory.

    I agree that during this time of year we should all be thinking more about the true meaning of the season rather than showing hatred and downing people. This season is about family and friends, being with each other, loving, caring and most of all Giving.

  11. This is a very interesting post.
    I wonder how many other things began with Christians that we are now up in arms about.

  12. Thank you for sharing that. I did not know any of that, and now when people get a little over the top, maybe I can enlighten them as well. (Though I'm sure some of them will not listen.)

    Thank you for the history lesson! It was very interesting and timely.


  13. I have heard about the origins of Xmas, but think that a number of people nowadays do it purposely and say "X-mas".

    When I write 'shorthand' for my own notes and lists I put "tmas" with a cross representing Christ. Seeing as I don't speak Greek that has more meaning to me personally!

    Merry, I know of Christians who don't approve of working Sundays, but think nothing of going to a restaurant and being served themselves. How ironic!

  14. I knew that about X and it seems like such a non-issue to me.
    You're right though…people go LOONIE over it!
    I maintain this… heated debate, pointing fingers and accusing confrontations are never ever going to get the message of Christ across as much as…I don't know…love?patience?grace?mercy…just my two cents!
    Good one!

  15. I'm happy to have found your blog recently. I've really enjoyed your insights! I am one of those that has resisted the use of Xmas, although I don't make a big deal out of it when others do. It's just been kind of a pet peeve with me. When I need to shorten Christmas for some reason, I use C'mas. Thanks so much for this post and sharing the origin of Xmas with us. I'll feel much better about using it, although as someone else said I'm sure there are many that feel they are deliberately taking out Christ when they use the X.

    On another note, how do you feel about families that celebrate "Christmas" when they aren't celebrating Christ, but rather a winter holiday? (We do both). I have a Jewish acquaintance who insists they celebrate "Christmas" and yet gets angry if anyone sends them a Christian religious card. She has completely hijacked a Christian holiday into a secular celebration (as have millions of others) and sees no distinction. I know this is an extreme example, but I wonder if others have had this experience.

  16. @Some Lucky Dog – I think anyone freaking out about getting a card that doesn't go along with my beliefs is wrong on all sides. Patience and love is in the Jewish belief system as much as it is taught by Christians. It needs to be in the forefront of our lives.

    My feeling about Christmas being only a Christian holiday… We have all hijacked Christmas and made it a secular holiday if we really think about it.

    Take a look at our treasured traditions during this time of the year. How many of those traditions are "secular"?

    If we were going to say Xmas is secular or other things others do… we'd have to get rid of a few traditions of our own that have nothing to do with Christ's birth… Christmas cards, stockings, a tree, lights, mistletoe, Yule Logs, Christmas ham or turkey dinner… Boxing Day and the list goes on.

  17. nice post. thanks.

  18. I found your blog through a FB link to this post, and I have to say thanks for writing this. My husband, who is a pastor, made the "mistake" of using "Xmas" in his FB status, and it launched into a whole big, long thread about this exact subject. Some people absolutely wouldn't listen to reason. (Not to mention, it had nothing at all to do with the subject of his status update.) I've seen the same thing happen recently on Mercy Me's Facebook page. Thanks for writing about this in a very clear, and well-thought-out manner. God bless!

  19. Loved it and linked it. Thanks for the inspiration, I added my two cents on the subject over at my blog.

  20. Ummmm..perspective is an interesting wonderful.

    Doing a bit of hopping …..Hope you’ll come by Lucy’s when you get a chance.

  21. I did a re-post of this on my blog. I hope you don't mind.

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