You don’t have to go far this time of year before you hear someone bemoaning the demise of Christian Christmas. You’ll hear such phrases as “reason for the season” and “put Christ back in Christmas”. One particular complaint that seems to be common is the use of “Xmas”.
The way Christmas defenders explain it, secular society has denigrated Christmas so much, they have even removed the word “Christ” from “Christmas” and replaced it with a generic X.
Here’s why that’s false.
“Xmas” has actually been in use since the 1750s, and earlier versions of the phrase, such as “X’temmas” and “Xp̄es mæsse”, were used as early as 1551 and 1100.
A thousand years ago, the word “Christ” was often abbreviated as “Xp” or “Xt”, a nod to Χριστός, the Greek word for “Christ”. In fact, the terms “Xpian” and “Xtian” once stood for “Christian” and “Xtianity” for “Christianity”.
This abbreviation, of course, extended to the word “Christmas”, as well as many other words (and even names) with the word “Christ” in them.
So, in reality, “Xmas” has never taken “Christ” out of “Christmas”. It’s kept it in. For centuries.
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