Monday, December 22, 2008

The X in Xmas....


Recently I have heard so much about the use of the term Xmas... So, before I said to much I wanted to do a little research and was I surprised! Now, I still will never use the term Xmas but, for those that do, I will tell them a story that I read on a friend's blog. She told her children in Sunday School Class that Jesus was the original "X-man," and the most powerful one too. She would tell the children to put an X on a page just like the people of the early Church, then ask them to turn the page 90 degrees. When they did, the X became a cross and they were reminded not only of the beginning of Christ's life on earth, but the end as well. What a wonderful testimony! Here is the following information of Xmas, copied with permission~


Xmas is not of modern coinage. The Oxford English Dictionary documents the use of this abbreviation back to 1551. Undoubtedly it was employed before that. Now 1551 is 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! Moreover, at the same time, Xian and Xianity were in frequent use as abbreviations of Christian and Christianity.
You see, the X in Xmas did not originate as our English alphabet's X but as the symbol X in the Greek alphabet, called Chi, with a hard ch. The Greek Chi or X is the first letter in the Greek word Christos. Eric G. Gration claims that as early as the first century the X was used as Christ's initial. Certainly through church history we can trace this usage. In many manuscripts of the New Testament, X abbreviates Christos (Xristos). In ancient Christian art X and XR (Chi Ro—the first two letters in Greek of Christos abbreviate his name. We find that this practice entered the Old English language as early as AD 100. Moreover, Wycliff and other devout believers used X as an abbreviation for Christ. Were they trying to take Christ away and substitute an unknown quantity? The idea is preposterous.
Some may use Xmas today as an unchristian shortcut for Christmas, but the ancient abbreviation by no means originated as such. The scribes who copied New Testament manuscripts had no intention of taking Christ out of the New Testament. They used the abbreviation simply to save time and space. We use abbreviations for the same purpose today, as witness FDR, HST, JFK, LBJ, and a host of others. Xmas is a legitimate abbreviation. I do not use it because of the possible misunderstanding it often causes as a result of its misrepresentation or abuse. But by no means can the use of the abbreviation be a valid objection to the observance of Christmas itself! Is God against abbreviations?

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2 comments:

shopannies said...

not for sure if you knew this as well but there are those that use xmas to represent what we celebrate christmas but that they are not able or allowed to talk of christ. It is symbolic symbol that has became very important to me.

Sue said...

I never use the word xmas because as I was taught as a child in school and home (my how times have changed) CHRISTmas is what it is about! Thanks for this post...
MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Sue

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