Put the “X” Back in Christmas

Now that I’ve gotten your attention with a scandalous title, you may want to read what the “X” in “Xmas” really stands for.

I realize that a title like the one above could get you in trouble with a lot of folks. It’s the opposite of what you hear good people of my faith saying this time of year.

But the title happens to be exactly what we should be doing. Let me explain.

The letter X gets a bad rap this time of year. One Christmas when I was a kid two of the stores in my hometown had display windows too narrow to spell out “Merry Christmas” so they did something like this

which caused an uproar in my small town. It was the first time I remember hearing someone say that we should “put the Christ back in Christmas.” The last time I heard the phrase was a week ago when someone linked to a website on Facebook. Same message: don’t X the Christ out of Christmas.

Well, the X is not what you might think.

In Greek, the original language of the New Testament, the word Christ looks like this

The first letter of the word is a Chi (the ch is pronounced like a k and it rhymes with pie). It looks very much like our English letter X.

X in Greek is actually an abbreviation for Christ. One of the most ancient symbols of the church takes the first two letters of Christ and shapes them into a cross:

If I were to abbreviate my last name, I would write Sammy W. In the same way, using the Greek of the New Testament, Jesus Christ becomes Jesus X.

I’ll admit that shortening Christmas to Xmas doesn’t appeal to me. But it helps to know that the abbreviation is not some sinister plot to push Jesus out of the world.

You could argue that the abbreviation in fact puts Him right where he belongs: at the beginning of our holiday thoughts and celebration.

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6 Responses to Put the “X” Back in Christmas

  1. Sherida Kemp says:

    Thank you, Sammy! I can’t wait to share. This is why we must study.

  2. April Kennedy says:

    I love that!

  3. Lj says:

    Ok, it is official, I am a proud Xian now! Seriously, Sammy, best Blog post in my book, not that that means much but hey … My personal fav thus far!!

    Lj

  4. Rachel says:

    AHHHHHHHHHHH Pastor Sammy I love this and I love you! Thank you so much for ALWAYS making us think and research and know the true meaning of whats going on … and anybody reading Anne Lamott would totally agree right! 🙂 ha ha ha Hope you are enjoying some well deserved rest and hope that cold hasn’t caught up with you or your sweet wife!
    Rach

  5. Stacie says:

    Love it!!
    Merry Xmas to ALL!!!

  6. Kiere El-Shafie says:

    Awesome. I love learning things that I could never figure out on my own. Sometimes the Bible is all Greek to me. 😉

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