Merry Xmas to you and yours.
Monday, December 10, 2012
A Brief Explanation of the Original Meaning of Xmas
Merry Xmas to you and yours.
Yes, you read that right. Merry Xmas to you and yours.
“What is with this guy” you're wondering. “Does he realize what he is doing? Here he has a bunch of Catholic blogs and is saying 'Xmas'! Doesn't he realize what he is saying?”
Yes, I sure do!
A lot of people...most people in fact... tend to get very upset when they see the term "Xmas".
"Xmas? How dare they take Christ out of Christmas, and call it Xmas. After all, Christmas is derived from Christ's Mass, and calling it Xmas is just a blatant attempt to demean what Christmas means. They already want to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”...and now they want to make their attack complete by writing “Merry Xmas”? Well, I for one am not standing idly by while these secular humanists and their anti-Christian cohorts...."
Whoa there....slow down and take a couple of deep breaths. While you're taking your deep breaths I'll give you a little information so you can get your drawers (that means underwear to you people not from the country) out of a wad....so to speak.
The term Xmas is virtually as old as Christianity itself, and actually comes from classical Greek. The Roman letter “X” in our alphabet is similar to the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, “Christos”, which translates as "Christ". The "mas" part is from the Latin-derived Old English word for "Mass". So, the word “Christmas” is actually derived from the Old English “Cristes mæsse”, literally meaning Mass of Christ.
“Xmas” (sometimes pronounced éksməss) is, and was a very common abbreviation of the word “Christmas”. So there is a very common misconception that the word “Xmas” is a secular attempt to remove the religious tradition of Christmas by taking Christ out of Christmas. This is just not the case for the term historically speaking.
According to the “Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage” the early use of Xmas dates back to 1551. Further, it (Merriam-Webster) states that X, Xp, and Xt, all derived from the Greek name, have all been used to stand for Christ- in other words besides Xmas. "Xpen" (1485), "Xpian" (1598), and "Xtian" (1845, 1915, 1940), all meaning "Christian", "Xstened" (1685-86) "christened" and "Xtianity" (1634, 1811, 1966) "Christianity".
Also, you can find the “X” being used in the ancient Christian fish symbol, or “Icthys”, as “ΙΧΘΥΣ”, which is an acronym for “Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior”.
The labarum, more often called the Chi-Rho, was rendered by taking the first 2 Greek letters of the name Christ (Χριστός), the "X" (Chi) the "P" (Rho), and is a symbol used in Catholic, Orthodox, and many Protestant Christian churches as a symbol for Christ.
In a good deal of ancient Christian art, “x” and “xp” are used as abbreviations for Christ's name, as well as in many icons and ancient manuscripts of the New Testament.
The use of the term “Xmas” in place of Christmas was also used in letters from Lord Byron (1811), Lewis Carroll (1864) and Oliver Wendell Holmes (1923), in which Merriam-Webster's opines was indicative of “well-educated Englishmen who knew their Greek”.
So, I hope this helps.
I am not going to try to tell you that “Xmas” is not used by those who are trying to offend, as I am sure in some cases that it is intended so. Just remember the next time you see “Xmas”, they are still saying Christmas...and still honoring the name of Christ, even though they may not realize it.
Now, you do know it.
So, Merry Xmas to you and yours!