Wrong Word Wednesday Special: Xmas

If there’s one thing that gets Christians riled up, it’s the apparent war on Christmas. I’ve discussed that at my other blog here and here. One of the complaints most commonly heard is replacing Christmas with Xmas. Christ is, quite literally, being taken out of Christmas. But is this part of the secular agenda, or something else?

Not so fast before you start setting fire to pictures of Richard Dawkins, because this is not part of his Great Liberal Agenda(TM). It may surprise some to learn that the X in Xmas goes back to the dawn of Christianity and is even older than the established church. How so?

Most of the canonical gospels as we understand them were written in a form of Greek known as Koine. Where the word for Christ appears in the text, it appears thus: Χριστος. Now, my ancient Greek isn’t great, but it is probably better than most because I’m familiar with the cyrillic alphabet through what little Russian and modern Greek I have learnt, but Χριστος reads as follows Χ = Kh ρ = r ισ = iss τος = tos

The two letters X and P are called “Chi Rho” (pronounced Ky-roh like the Egyptian capital) and when put together, they should form a very familiar image…

The Chi-Rho (right) is one of the oldest symbols of Christianity. wikimedia.org

The Chi-Rho is one of the oldest symbols of Christianity, featuring on the shields of the Roman Empire from the reign of Constantine I. It was also therefore a well-recognised symbol of Christianity throughout history. Often, to save space and because no such symbol existed in the languages of Europe, Chi-Rho was simplified to X. If we can accuse anyone of anything in writing Xmas, it is simply laziness.

The “Xmas is blasphemy” attitude only come to the fore in the 1960s when a conservative American group began a campaign against the use of Xmas. They should have done their research and as Christians, should have known better. But when people are fired up, they are rarely thinking and acting rationally.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful Xmas, I don’t expect to post now until New Year so I will see you in 2015!

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