Christmas A to Z

Learn interesting, unusual, unique and useful facts and tips about Christmas and the winter holiday season, in America and around the world.

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How We Came to Use the Word Xmas


he word Xmas has gotten a bad rap. Even we, at, have been chastised for using Xmas in a Web navigation heading that didn’t have room in it for Christmas.

But, back in the First Millennium, when scholars knew their Greek and everything was written laboriously by hand, X – as the Greek letter called Chi – was often used by scribes with carpal tunnel syndrome as a perfectly acceptable abbreviation for Christ which means "anointed" in Greek.

It was used not only for Christmas but for Xtian (Christian), Xtianity (Christianity) and other places where Christ was mentioned.

It is not an attempt to "keep Christ out of Christmas" as some people have claimed.

The poet Lord Byron used Xmas, as did Lewis Carroll and even Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in published writings. While the full spelling of Christmas is, of course, the preferred spelling the alternative of Xmas is acceptable according to several dictionaries where "conciseness" is desired.

The symbol (Chi Roh) is another way of referring to Jesus. It is composed of the Greek letters Chi (the X) and Rho (the P) which is the second letter in the Greek spelling of His name.

Written by Dianne Weller
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