The X in Christmas

“Xmas is offensive; keep CHRIST in Christmas!”

Friends. Really?!?

Do we really need to be offended by everything in society? Are Christians always victims and casualties of a culture war? Certainly there are some things to take offense in terms of moral and life – LIFE! – issues. But the spelling of a word that actually has greater spiritual and historical context than you realize should not be something you take offense. Xmas does not diminish Christ in Christmas or Jesus being the reason for the season.

The letter X we see through our modern English eyes as if the sun revolved around Americans in the 21st Century. The letter X actually stands for the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. “Christos” is the New Testament Greek word for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is chi, which when transliterated into our English alphabet is an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.

X has a long and sacred history for Christianity. The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ was used in the early church not just as a shorthand but as a cover in persecution. A person could write one mark leaving the other person to cross the line with their mark to form the X, indicating their faith or support for Christianity. The X further came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus.

The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters for the Greek alphabet: (Iota) Iessous (Chi) Christos (Theta) Theou (Upsilon) Uios (Sigma) Soter. So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put those letters together to spell the Greek word for fish, but greater implying the phrase: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” That’s how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom. There’s a long and sacred history of the using the letter X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect. Anyone protesting those fish car magnets?

When we say or write Xmas, we are aligning ourselves with hundreds of years of church history, and in some cases our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. So let’s celebrate the X in Christmas even more. Further, we strengthen our witness by taking offense over things that truly matter to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Christians do not have to be known as the people in perpetual outrage, but as the people of History which is His Story. So, let us not cease telling the story about the X in Christmas.

Merry Xmas 🙂

References:
http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2008/august/what-is-origin-of-christian-fish-symbol.html
http://www.ligonier.org/blog/why-is-x-used-when-it-replaces-christ-in-christmas/

 

 

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