He says, “Christmas.” She says, “Xmas.”
Some Christians disagree on how an invitation to celebrate Jesus’ birth should read. It reveals how little some of us know about early Christian symbols and traditions.
In 1977, New Hampshire Governor Meldrim Thomson Jr. said in a press release, “Keep Christ in Christmas Day” and with that, the argument began. But, whether Christmas or Xmas, we are saying the same thing.
This debate is now a part of our holiday preparations. Still, Advent is an opportunity to retell Jesus’ birth narrative and to celebrate with his parents.
Don’t ruin the moment with a senseless quarrel. I don’t care who started it. Besides, Jesus is coming! We are supposed to be singing not debating. Not another word from you — not even if it is a sermon. The Word has draped itself in flesh, and I want to hold him.
Don’t you know how long we have been waiting for the Savior of the world? Wrap up your final comments and put a bow on it. Then, pray the words of Henri Nouwen with me:
Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness,
send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say,
‘Come Lord Jesus!’
Christ-mass is the worship service that celebrates Christ’s birth. Consequently, some think the abbreviation takes away from its meaning.
They argue that the true spirit of Christmas is being swapped out for materialism, that this is the goal of secularism. But the X does not mark the spot; rather we should target capitalism.
We are not crossing out the name of Jesus, uninviting him to his own birthday party. Instead, it is a centuries-old abbreviation and a part of early Christian tradition.
The first disciples used symbols, many of which we are familiar with, including the staurogram or monogrammatic cross. Stauros is an abbreviation of the Greek word used to describe a tool for criminal punishment and the symbol predates Christianity.
Early Christians took it to mean cross after borrowing it from a secular society. Apparently, they thought the hand-me-down word was good enough for Jesus.
The Greek lesson continues in the case of “Xmas.” In the Greek alphabet, the letter that looks like an X is chi and pronounced “kye.” It rhymes with sigh because why is this still an argument?
We should be arguing about who is going hold baby Jesus next — not going back and forth about this.
It is the first Greek letter in the word Christos (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ). The early church also combined the first two letters of the word and created a monogram (chi and ro, XP).
When under persecution, the early disciples used a “Jesus fish” as a secret sign to identify themselves to other believers. “Fishers of men,” the Greek word for fish, ichthys, was used to create an acrostic, Iesous Christos Theou Huios Soter or, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”
Surprise! The second letter is an X (Χρίστος) and means Christos.
The X in Xmas is not secular in origin or proof of an attack on Christianity. That line of thinking is a conspiracy theory, which invented two sides to Jesus’ story.
Spelled differently, Xmas and Christmas have the same pronunciation. And I will work to forgive those who started this baseless argument. “’Tis the season.”