Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Christmas & Xmas
We Christians are easily unsettled. Maybe this post will help settle us a bit. (Yes, I do this every year.)
This time of year I take to writing "Xmas" in emails, posts etc. Why? Because it's short and it's an abbreviation. It works just like "etc" does.
We don't say, "e-t-c," we say, "et-SET-er-a." Likewise I don't say "EX-mas." I write "Xmas" and pronounce it "KRIS-mas." (Uh-oh--new discovery: our pronunciation takes the Christ out of Christmas...)
"But, you're taking the 'Christ' out of Christmas!"
No, I don't believe so. "Xmas" is of Greek origin. The word for Christ in Greek is Xristos. (pronounced "KRIS-tose") During the 16th century Europeans began using the first initial of Christ's name, "X," in place of the word Christ in Christmas as a shorthand of the word.
When I see "Xmas" on a sign I don't think the business owner is trying to make a negative statement about Christ; I just think they don't have enough room on their sign for "Christmas." Maybe we should be encouraged that a business thinks enough of the holiday to put it on its sign.
I do wonder if this belief about "Xmas" comes from Christians associating the innocent letter "X" with being "X-rated. Let's remember that there are no bad letters, just bad usages.
Years ago when I worked at a lending institution I was taking applications during Dec. (Did you read that as "Dek" or "De-SEM-ber?") for the reason for most of the loans I wrote in the little box, "Xmas." The branch manager asked me to stop doing that as she was offended. So I wrote "Cmas" on the subsequent applications. Yes I have always been this way...
Merry Christmas. Merry Cmas. Merry Xmas. (All the same to me.)