Christmas or Xmas?
Is saying Xmas taking Christ out of Christmas?
is there a history behind it?
Where did "Christmas" Come From?
Christmas is the celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ, and while the actual day of his birth is not known (scholars put it around 2 - 7 B.C.), the holiday was set to the Winter Solstice, which was a Roman Holiday.
The winter solstice has always been a time for festivals, but after the death of Christ and the rise of Christianity in various Western cultures, the holiday of Christmas began to pick up popularity.
The word "Christmas" comes from the word "Christ," which obviously comes from the name Jesus Christ.
the suffix "mas" comes from the Latin word "mass," which means a religious service. Over the decades, the phrases "worship services" or "church services" have been used to replace the word "mass," which is still used in Catholicism.
The History of X
The use of "Xmas" is not something that just began in the past 50 years. It actually has a long history and was widely used throughout the 18th century and even has earlier versions that date back to the 1550s. Here are some quick examples of the early usage of Xmas:
- Around 1100, the term "Xp̄es mæsse" was written in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
- In 1551, the term"X'temmas" was used
- History of St. Edmund's College, Old Hall - written by Bernard Ward and published in 1755
- William Perry wrote a list of "Explanations of Common Abbreviations" in the Royal Standard English Dictionary. Within the list, he listed Xmas as a shortened version of Christmas. This occurred in 1800 and suggests it was common.
Since the 19th century, "Xmas" has been used in Canada, Australia, and the Caribbean.
By the early 20th century, "Xmas" can be found in many different advertisements.
Why is "Xmas" Offensive?
I believe there are two answers to this.
Through no fault of their own, folks are just ignorant. How many people use Latin in their everyday language?
The letter X has its own place in the English language, and it never means Christ. So, over time, the meaning was lost, and most folks have no idea that the letter X goes back to Ancient Rome and early Christianity.
However, by learning its history, it is clear that the letter X is shorthand for Christ.
2. Secularization of Culture
Christianity has been under attack in America for over a century. A nation that was once known for its Christian heritage has become predominately secular.
This can be seen throughout the culture, and many things that have been associated with Christianity in the past are now being changed.
The secularization of American culture will lead many to believe that this is just another attempt at secularizing Christmas.
However, that is not true.
Xmas is not the word that folks have chosen to replace the word Christmas. They have replaced it with Holiday. Many stores now say Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas because they believe it is offensive to speak of Christmas when there are other holidays that are celebrated by other cultures within America.