Okay, for those of you who get all uptight about Xmas this time of year, don’t get your panties in a wad…I have some information.
The popular Christian assumption, that people are trying to “X” out Christ or make Christmas more commercially appealing to non-Christians, is false. The history of the word “Xmas” is actually more respectable — and fascinating — than you might suspect. Turns out, X is the Greek letter “chi,” the initial letter in the word Χριστός. And what do you reckon Χριστός means? Christ! X has been an acceptable representation of the word “Christ” for hundreds of years (purportedly appearing in the mid 1500s); the device is known as a Christogram. In the same vein, the dignified terms “Xpian” and “Xtian” have been used in place of the word “Christian.”
Once you understand the history, it makes complete sense that Xmas was, and remains, an accepted abbreviation for Christmas and is NOT an attempted affront to Christians or an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas. We all like to save time wherever we can, right? Now we can all feel free to abbreviate the word Christmas without feeling as if we are betraying our Christian heritage.
Oh, and by the way – the origin of holiday is “holy day” so we aren’t really secularizing (is that a word?) anything when we use the “Happy Holidays!” greeting. We may be making it more inclusive – but it is still a religious, faith-based greeting and nothing to which Christians should take offense.
I’ll save discussion of the Church’s decision to move Xmas to December to coincide with a traditional pagan holiday for another time; I don’t want to rattle too many cages at once, after all…