Wednesday, 18 December 2013

XMAS

Do you dislike the term 'Xmas'?  Do you know why you dislike it?

I disliked it because I thought it was a lazy abbreviation which avoided the reason for the term Christmas with the emphasis on Christ and popularly associated with a trend towards materialism and non-observance of the particular cultural and religious ritual.

As I have come to realise in life I was, once again, wrong.

The history of the word “Xmas” is actually more respectable — and fascinating — than you might suspect.  Apparently it was first used in the mid 1500s. X is the Greek letter “chi” the initial letter in the word Χριστός which, much to my surprise, means “Christ.” X has been an acceptable representation of the word “Christ” for hundreds of years. This device is known as a Christogram (symbol of Christ). The mas in Xmas is the Old English word for “mass.”  
 
I think I still prefer Christmas though.

17 comments:

  1. I must say that I had some prejudices against this word, thinking that it was a lazy shortcut, but after reading this I think I'll change my mind about it, but just like you I prefer the regular term.

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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    1. I suspect Mersad that so few people know the real significance of the X that, for most people, it is just a shortcut.

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  2. It probably still is a "lazy shortcut" as most people don't share your erudition, GB. LIke you, I do prefer "Christmas". Anyway, however you spell it, do have a lovely one.

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    1. I agree Frances and thank you for your wishes.

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  3. I am an atheist but fascinated by pre-Christian life and rituals in the British Isles - including mid-winter and Yuletime festivals which the cunning Christian interlopers harnessed to advance their project. I have often used "Xmas" because it seemed to cock a snook at Christianity but your research here seems to prove I was misguided. Drat! I shall have to think of another euphemism now. Maybe Blogmas?

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    1. YP: Few Christians seem to realise that it was originally a pagan festival but then I suspect that even fewer care. Ironically those who are atheist seem to embrace Christmas anyway and just omit any religious overtones (which, lets face it, many professed Christians do too). It's those with strong beliefs in other faiths who seem to let it pass them by.

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    2. YP, I,am puzzled as to why an atheist needs to "cock a snook at Christianity". Could you explain, please?

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  4. I did not know this....I always thought it was the lazy way out of spelling Christmas...now I really know what Xmas is.
    I much more prefer Christmas and will continue to use it.

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    1. I know about the X (and ☧) as a symbol for Christ used in church context. I guess most people nowadays probably do perceive and use Xmas as lazy abbreviation, though. I'm not sure I ever gave it all that much thought... But then of course, in Swedish, we have kept the old word for the Germanic midwinter festival - JUL (related to the English "Yule").

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  5. That was new to me, Graham, so, thank you for explaining it! Like most of those who have commented on this post before me, I prefer Christmas to Xmas. It isn't that much more "work" to type those few letters, is it?

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    1. No it isn't much more work Meike which is one of the reasons I've always thought it an ineffective way of being lazy.

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  6. That was really informative Graham ~ thank you. I don't often use the X spelling myself, thinking it was just laziness ~ not sure I will unlearn that though.

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    1. I agree Carol. I'll still call it Christmas.

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  7. You've given a historical explanation of something very common. I think I'll remember this.

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    1. Glad to have been of service Red.

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  8. You live and learn! Thanks GB but, like you, I still prefer Christmas. I think in many cases it is used as a lazy way of writing Christmas. I doubt my local butcher knows much about Chi.

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  9. I prefer the term Christmas too - even though I hate the whole thing. Rampant materialism has seen to that!

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