Annoyed when people say “Xmas” instead of Christmas? Should you be?

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Have you ever heard about the plot to “X” Christ out of Christmas?  And so the secular celebraters of this holy-day (holiday) decided they were going to start using “Xmas” instead of Christmas?

Well, it’s not true.

We do have lots of people who celebrate Christmas without the “Christ” part.  We also have lots of people who celebrate Christmas without the “mass” part.  And yet still others who celebrate the “holidays” without really celebrating any particular “holy day” at all.

We have taken God out of government, schools and the workplace. Many have transformed Christ into some kind of subjective feeling or force.  Even some “churches” have taken Christ out of their creed altogether.

But “Xmas” is not trying to “X” Christ out of Christmas.  It actually is a legitimate abbreviation.

The “X” in Xmas is from the first letter of the Greek spelling for Christ (???????).  You’ve probably seen a big XP symbol on the altar at mass before.  That’s a symbol for Christ (again, from the Greek word for Christ).  In fact, Microsoft’s Windows XP is also a reference to Jesus Christ.

Ok, I made that last part up.  But the rest is true…”X” is just an abbreviation for Christ.  And similar abbreviations have been in use by Christians since the beginning of Christianity.

Of course, Christians have also always only used such abbreviations when it was prudent or practical.  “Xmas” is not considered a formal way to reference this holy celebration – just as most all abbreviations and shorthand are not appropriate in formal writing.  And certainly, when referencing the King of Kings, it seems appropriate to maintain as much reverence and respect with His name whenever possible.

Personally, I don’t use “Xmas” because most people in the world don’t understand the connection between the symbol “X” and the name of Christ.  And since our culture has largely forgotten the “Reason for the season,” using unclear language only makes that problem worse.  We need more clear reminders for what this season is all about – not less.

Have a merry Christmas!

25 comments Add comment

amy2boys December 21, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Oh you got me good with the Windows XP thing. I read that sentence 3 times, thinking “NO WAY!” And of course not…I wonder if they’d change it if they realized…

Ha. You got me.

Patricia December 22, 2009 at 1:43 am

It would be cool if XP was for Christ. I will dub it so on my computer. I used to use the XP symbol in my notes at school all the time–much faster when tryign to scribble and keep up with a lecture. =)

Todd December 22, 2009 at 8:37 pm

Thank you for the post. I was just reading about this over at crossroadsinitiative.com.

Jared December 30, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Indeed, XP. One of the oldest symbols of Christ that the Christian faith possesses. The chi-rho, XP, was the choice of ink on my right arm. The Roman soldiers in the early Christian days would tattoo themselves with the intitials of their general to distinguish themselves from other soldiers. Amercia kind of does the same with the wearing of the flag on the sleeve.

I figured if I am Catholic, I must follow my general.

Rowena November 22, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Well, i certainly never even thought that XP is something to do with windows! I Think it isn’t true because windows XP Stands for Windows XPerience, meaning you get private accounts and stuff.

Personally, i don’t think their was anything wrong with saying Xmas, like when i was a kid i thought it didn’t matter because Jesus Died on the Cross and the Cross is holy. So when people started saying Xmas i thought they were still saying Holy Words- so it didn’t bother me. I’m not all bothered when people say Xmas Or Christmas, to me and i couldn’t care less about what other people say, to me Christmas Or Xmas is stil a very important day to me, yes the facts that it’s the end of a hard year and i get lots of cool presents; but the facts that jesus christ came into this world and saved me from my mistakes. That Is why i think it does not matter WHAT you call it- it’s the day jesus was born, it’s the day that comes up behind you and pats you on the back saying “Well done!” Its the day when you spend time with your family and friends, it’s the day when you celebrate christmas!

Martha Wiggins December 2, 2010 at 4:31 pm

I will be honest and admit while I have seen the XP symbol for Christ, I wasn’t aware of the Christian history behind the X in Xmas. I did think it was just an abbreviation people used who were too lazy or too busy to write it correctly. I personally do not like the idea of it, but then again, I am the type of person that will send only a Christmas card that actually refers to the real meaning, the coming of Christ into the world, and most importantly into our hearts!

Martha Wiggins December 2, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Oh, and Merry Christmas to you! Hope you enjoy celebrating it with your new little angel!

Jaime December 6, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Well, I’m not Greek, or Catholic, so I’ll keep using Christ. It is a witness to the world the Jesus is Messiah and He is the reason for the season.

Jill December 18, 2010 at 12:41 am

So Xmas can be said as “Christmas” or “Chi-mas” but saying it as “Eks-mas” is what throws people off. I’ve never heard the “Chi-mas” and I think I’ll try to remember to read it that way.

Your third paragraph repeats my sentiments exactly which I had on my Facebook page a week ago:
Christmas is under assault, as every year. This year we should broaden our cry from just “Keep Christ in Christmas” to also “Keep Mass in Christmas”
and, for that matter, “Keep Christmas in Christmas!”

Adam Dost December 26, 2010 at 9:13 am

As someone who has studied Greek, I disagree with your closing argument. Both in ancient cultures as well as today, when someone’s name was known just by their initial it was not just a sign of recognition but also of respect. So not only is X a valid abbreviation it is actually honoring Christ.

Matthew Warner December 29, 2010 at 10:53 am

Adam,

To be clear, I didn’t say that it dishonors Christ to use an initial. But I still stand solidly behind my final paragraph. I would disagree that in our present day culture in America that the everyday person believes that using X as an abbreviation for Christ is “honoring Christ.” You may think so. But most people don’t. I think for most people seeing “Christmas” as opposed to “Xmas” is a more effective and clear reminder of what Christmas is all about. That’s all.

Joshua December 1, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Christmas,Xmas or however you choose to say it, is very much so a Pagan HOLIDAY(not Holy-Day) Christmas is NOWHERE in the bible,it is simply a man made teaching & Pagan custom. Christ nor his disciples celebrated “christmas”. Dec 25(winter) is SO FAR from the description of jesus birth that it is scary that ppl even celebrate it. Dec 25 is the birth of the SUN GOD, NOT GODS SON! Constantine abolished Gods 7th day sabbath on saturday & introduced 1st day Sunday worship, he introduced the cross into the church(before that it was an execution tool for the worse kind of chriminals. Something Christ didn’t deserve) ALL of these things happened 300+ years after Christ ascension. Research History. Constantine mixed Christianity and Pagan worship. Both constantine & the popes title is Pontifex maximus. Meaning they worship the Sun GoD! Research this stuff & turn your hearts to true God! Don’t keep man made festivals such as christmas. Its detestable in Gods sight! God Bless you all! Follow God & the teachings of the bible and not man made pagan traditions!

Matthew Warner December 1, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Joshua – with all due respect, that is almost all entirely ridiculous. And filled with logical fallacies.

Just because a particular holiday was implemented by the Church to celebrate something, and in doing so, they (wisely) co-opted existing (sometime pagan) holidays in the process doesn’t make them any less Christian. Nor any less holy. It makes it brilliant. What the Church did when it piggy-backed off of other non-Christian celebrations, was to take what was good from those celebrations and complete them with the fullness of Truth, with Christ. i.e. rather than saying, you’re a hell-bound heathens for worshipping, for example, the Sun, it said…you know what, recognizing that you are not the Sun and being appreciative that it makes all life possible on our planet is a pretty darn good start. Now let’s improve upon that by tweaking it just a little further and instead of focusing on the Sun, let’s focus on He who made the Sun (and everything else). It’s beautiful and natural and holy and absolutely Christian.

As for your other comments, come on. Scripture speaks over and over of “the Cross.” And it instructs us to preach Christ crucified. Even referring to images of Christ crucified.

And the whole myth that all of these things suddenly popped up inorganically in history at the time of Constantine simply is not credible and not believed by any credible historian. In fact, it was the same historical Catholic Church you are criticizing so harshly for celebrating the birth of Christ (God becoming a man) which also preserved, compiled and canonized the books that make up your bible that you are insisting upon.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Joshua December 1, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Mathew. With all due respect. History clearly show Constantine along with the papcy changing Gods laws & set times just as prophesied in the book of Daniel. The old test speaks against the cross. The bible does tell us to preach Christ RESURRECTION,but NOT to put up the cross. Several scriptures go against the cross. The passover was abolished in 325AD at thye council of nicea. Show me one ling telling us to admire or to put up the cross in honor of christ. Show me one. Also the bible clearly tell us not to worship the IMAGE of anything in heaven,one earth or waters below. So show me scripture telling us to honor images of christ.

Cathoic church the followers call the leaders of the church father. Bible clearly speaks against that. Reguardless if catholics believe jesus gave peter the keys to heave & the thought is that if you forgive a person on earth it will be bond in heaven. Catholics completly misunderstand that verse in mathew. Show me one verse where Peter walked around telling people their sins are forgiven. He did what christ instructed which was baptize. He never walked around telling ppl they are forgive of their sins. ONLY GOD can do that.

Show me one verse in the bible authorizing a WEEKLY sunday worship. You won’t find it. Even the book “the faith of our fathers” written by a catholic bishop said the bible has not authorization of sunday worship because that was introduced by catholic church. I could go on for days about the catholic church contradictions,but that isn’t what my intentions are. The bible clearly say this is how you are to pray “my FATHER n heaven…” It doesn’t say anything about Mary. She is just a normal woman who found favor with God. Nothing more or less. & once jesus other PHYSICAL siblings became born Mary was no longer a Virgin! Explain this teaching to me that isn’t biblical. I’m sure you know the changes made at the council of nicea and the edict of milan. And also what happened in 313AD,312AD and 321AD etc. Constantine didn’t even get baptized until he was on his death bed. Read the book of revelation the book of Daniel. It is clearly about the catholic church.

God Bless You,but nothing I have said is hidden in history

Matthew Warner December 1, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Joshua – the “papacy” is not able nor has it ever “changed God’s laws.”

And Galatians 3:1 clearly is referring to a crucifix with a portrayal of Jesus on it, for starters. But you seem to be utilizing the bible in a way that it was not made to be used. The bible even admits itself that it does not contain everything that Jesus did. And nowhere does it say that we can ONLY do what is written in it. That would be ridiculous, and we couldn’t get through much of our day if that were the case…much less a worship service of any kind (including a Jehovah’s Witness service or whichever you are).

Christ founded a Church – the Catholic Church. That Church was given a certain authority (which they used to compile the books in your Bible). It also gave them a certain organizational authority to help the Church grow and celebrate and worship God in communion with each other. So naturally, scheduled feasts, structure, rituals, etc. developed. There is nothing wrong with them at all. In fact, they are beautiful and good. JW’s or whoever else all have their own rituals or rules they’ve come up with on their own based upon their own fallible interpretations of scripture and whatever else. Your arguments simply have no weight.

Call no leaders of the Church father? Where did Jesus say that? You are twisting scripture. He said “call no man father.” And obviously, like ANYTHING you read, you have to understand the context and literal intent of the writer. It did not mean that you plainly can not call any man father. That would be silly. It was obviously getting at a much deeper theological point.

And actually, Catholics don’t just practice “weekly” worship. We constant perpetual worship (as scripture says to pray without ceasing). Mass occurs every day at every hour somewhere in the world. It is the most communal and unified prayer mankind has ever known. But the weekly observance on Sunday was something the very first Christians practiced.

And you really need to learn a bit more about how the Church prays, why we pray to saints, etc. And if you think that the woman who literally gave God His humanity, His own flesh and blood body so that we could all be saved, was “just a normal woman” I’m not sure you understand the importance of Jesus and his death and resurrection. It’s BECAUSE Jesus is so Great that Mary is honored. It’s all Jesus, sir. I encourage you to learn more about what the Church actually teaches.

But again, you are misusing the bible anyway. And it doesn’t matter at all when Constantine got baptized. Really. Like means absolutely nothing regarding the Catholic Church, what she teaches, her authority given to her directly by Christ, or anything of that nature.

Additionally, you should check out what many of the early Christians said and did. You’ll find that what they believed and practiced was explicitly Catholic. And they did so long before Constantine (which you seem to be obsessed with).

Here are a few other posts/links you might be interested in:

Why do Catholics believe in things not in the Bible?
Do Catholics Worship Mary?
A lot of great quotes on tons of topics from the early Church
Did the early church move the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday?
Call no man “Father”?
Origins of Peter as Pope
Peter and the Papacy

Merry Christmas!

Chad Moore December 5, 2011 at 8:59 pm

well i’m learning tons of stuff just from these comments…..:)
though much of this is really too much for me. I prefer the Kiss method
Keep It Simple Silly (stupid whatever you prefer)
Love the Lord thy God w/everything in you (para-phrasing:)
Serve others (as you do unto these, you do unto me)

Crislee Anderson Moreno December 12, 2011 at 11:09 am

Matthew, I always love your blogs! So spot on! I teach the faith, and do my best every day to live it. In the poor defense of this person you’re replying to: Protestants (I’m a convert) can’t possible have the true history behind the writings of the scriptures where would they get that….From the Catholic Church. And by their very nature they can not get what they lack from what they have willingly protested. So, they will never have the full truth until they come fully home; which can only be found in the Catholic Church. I know you know that. But the best we can do is exactly what you do so often. With great respect you do your best to explain why we do what we do. Many Catholics don’t even understand their own church and spread falsehoods (I believe most of the time not intending to). So, until we properly teach our own it will be very hard for others to understand. Took me about 4 years to full accept all the Church teaches (not that I know it all, just accept it all). What a beautiful feeling too. God truly is capable of anything! Thank you for always teaching through your posts in such a loving way. I know sometimes that can be hard. I hope the commenter can see you meant no disrespect, but was just explaining that it is impossible to fully explain to someone that can’t see scriptures and tradition the way they were so long ago when they were established. Those have only be held steady by the original Christian church.

Christi Pemberton December 14, 2011 at 10:40 am

That is just an excuse to not say “Christ”. Most people do not know the significance of the “X” letter and just X the name of Christ out for their own convenience, so let’s not kid ourselves. They do it to X out Christ, or to just be lazy with the word. We don’t X out or abbreviate other religious holidays, so why this one? We love to provide all kinds of excuses (as legitimate as we want to believe), so that we don’t have to own up to the true reason for our celebration.

Marc Cardaronella December 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Windows XP…that’s a good one!

I saw an artificial Christmas tree on sale at Walmart that wasn’t a “Christmas” tree or an “Xmas” tree. On the box it was labeled “Cmas” tree. Is that a new way of getting around saying Christmas I wonder?

Matthew Warner December 16, 2011 at 1:32 am

Ha! Walmart probably had limited space but didn’t want to offend people who are offended (and wrongly so) by the use of “Xmas.” I’d put money on it.

fred December 5, 2012 at 2:54 pm

what if Jesus had used an abreviation for the cross instead of the real thing? would it mean the same thing? Of course not.

Matthew Warner December 5, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Do you mean when he talked about it or wrote it down? I’m confused. We’re talking about how it is written and communicated. Not about the thing itself.

fred December 6, 2012 at 5:05 am

Matthew, Jesus abriviated nothing in his short time on earth. Either in communication nor in reality. If his death was a reality, why do we need to abriviate his title? To me it shows a total lack of respect. When we bow down at his feet, will we call him X ? No we will not, And we should not call him x any other time. Whether we are talking about the thing itself, or how it is communicated, when it comes to the Christ, we need to honor him in full, not in abriviation. Do we call him mr J ? No, We call him by his name Jesus, or Yashua. We need to not make light of anything pertaining to God , his son nor his spirit. period

Matthew Warner December 6, 2012 at 10:30 am

Fred – first of all, you don’t know if Jesus abbreviated anything in his time on Earth. I’d guess that I’m sure he abbreviated many things, at least in the manner we’re speaking of here. It’s a matter of practicality. And I’m sure there are numerous places his everyday language in the bible could be considered a kind of abbreviation.

But even still, as I’m sure you read the post, you would know that I largely agree with you in terms of reverence and respect. But the main point of the post is that xmas is not a plot to X Christ out of Christmas or to show disrespect to Christ. It still means Christmas, even if it may be a little casual or lazy in its common use.

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