Just as holiday traditions of trees, lights, and grandmother’s nutrolls, out roll the “nuts” from Christian circles seething at the use of ‘Xmas’. Facebook is already crawling with statuses decrying the use of ‘Xmas’. They proudly scream on their walls, “Let’s not take Christ out of Christmas!” Some even take it to the extreme by physically assaulting people who say, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” as if that is a logical way to promote Christ in Christmas (let alone questioning the legitimacy of their walk with Christ). Before you throw your hat in the ring and become a glaring example of Matthew 23:23, please take a moment to read some thoughts on this subject.
First, we need to realize that although this is a man-centered, depraved world we live in, there’s not a demon around every corner or tear behind every tissue. Christians, either out of boredom or self-righteousness declare war on secular society every year over the use of ‘Xmas’. Some become so worked up about it, that an unbeliever would be so turned off by their misplaced hatefulness that they’d check out physically or mentally before that person could say anything about the Gospel.
I need to say something and I want to be absolutely clear about it…
THE USE/ORIGINS OF ‘XMAS’ NO MORE TAKES CHRIST OUT OF ‘CHRISTMAS’ THAN DOES ‘ILY’ TAKE LOVE OUT OF ‘I LOVE YOU’
There I feel better. Read on, you will too.
Throughout Christian history, symbolism has been around every corner. Our faith has many symbols that serve as reminders from the cross to the fish, they are in abundance. The use of ‘Xmas’, rightly understood, is no different.
Though details are sparse and scarce at best, at one point in time the letter ‘X’ was used to symbolize ‘Christ’. Perhaps this could be a result of the first letter in Greek for the word ‘Christ’ is ‘chi’ and looks like ‘X’. In any case, ‘Xmas’ emerged in the 15th century as a widely accepted use for ‘Christmas’. The use was amplified as the printing press was invented in 1436 by Johannes Gutenberg and movable type came to life. Due to the complexity and effort required to move the typesetting, it was expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, abbreviations were common for both brevity and cost-efficiency.
If you’ve been in ministry for any amount of time or know someone who is, he/she will affirm that finances are often tight around the church. Back in the 15th-16th century, this was no different. Churches routinely used abbreviations to save money when printing religious publications. ‘X’ was used regularly to stand for ‘Christ’. Not only was ‘Xmas’ a widely accepted use of ‘Christmas’ but ‘Christian’ or ‘Christianity’ were also abbreviated ‘Xian’ and ‘Xianity’ respectively. Webster’s Dictionary even confirms the use of ‘Xmas’ by the middle of the 16th century.
So now you know. And now that you know, you can turn your attention towards being a more efficient Xian by focusing on something that actually matters, like the Gospel of Jesus Christ and an enjoyable Xmas season!
Soli Deo Gloria!