The following is a guest blog from Lynne Focht, director of the Children’s Ministry at Spirit Life Church.
Is it okay to say Xmas?
We refer to Jesus using many terms: the Word, the Light, the Lamb of God, Son of God, Lord, Emmanuel. As we head into this Christmas season, we often see or hear the term Xmas. Is it okay to use Xmas? Some people may think that by using the term Xmas you are being too modern and disrespectful. They might say that you are taking the “Christ” out of Christmas.
This is a misconception that mainly came from etiquette guides that date to the 1940’s. The 1948 Vogue’s Book of Etiquette states that “‘Xmas’ should never be used” in greeting cards. Also interesting to note is in 1977, New Hampshire Governor Meldrim Thomson sent out a press release saying that he wanted journalists to keep the “Christ” in Christmas, and not call it Xmas—which he called a “pagan” spelling of Christmas.
It turns out “Xmas” is not a non-religious version of “Christmas”. The “X” is actually indicating the Greek letter “Chi”, which is short for the Greek word for Christ. So “Xmas” and “Christmas” are equivalent in every way except their lettering. Using the “X” abbreviation was a very popular practice, particularly with religious scribes, who are thought to have started the whole “Xmas” thing in the first place.
Indeed, the practice of using the symbol “X” in place of Christ’s name has been going on amongst religious scholars for at least 1000 years. Most of us are very careful with the terminology we use, so as not to offend others, but using
Xmas really shouldn’t be offensive to us as Christians.
The abbreviation was not created specifically for the purpose of demeaning Christ, Christians, Christianity, or Christmas – it is simply a very old artifact from another language.
Lynne Focht is director of Go!, the children’s ministry at Spirit Life Church.