Tuesday, November 30, 2010
It seems nowadays that saying “Xmas” either makes you a rabid secularist or at least a sub-Christian who, like the atheists, want to take Christ out of “Christ”-
Let’s get a little history lesson in real quick: (you can find most of this information on the internet. Ie: http://www.oed.com/, http://www.christianhistorytimeline.com/ amongst others … but I urge you to research it for yourself)
For at least the last thousand years, “X” has been used as an abbreviation for Christ, far surpassing the breadth of time the modern usage of “Xmas”. Actually “Christ” was written a number of ways “XP” (Chi Rho) and also “XT”. The dating of these particular christograms are difficult but there are some references in the Anglo Saxon Chronicles (which are historical accounts of the Anglo Saxons written in Old English) that date back to the early 1000’s. The “XP” that we widely see used in modern Orthodox denominations as well as Catholicism, Episcopalians as well as others, is called the “Labarum” and are the “x” and “p” letters of “ΙΧΘΥΣ”, the Greek word for “Christ”
The “X” has also been cited as being used in terms “Xtian” and “Xtianity”, according to the Oxford English Dictionary as early as 1485. In many New Testament manuscripts and Greek images X was used as various titles for Jesus and is still viewed as a symbol of Christ and used as chrismons.
In 1436 Johannes Guttenberg invented the printing press and as such, the tedious and expensive typesetting, led him to use the Greek symbol as the abbreviation for the church. Even Webster’s dictionary acknowledges that the abbreviation Xmas was in common use by the middle of the sixteenth century.
Only within the last century has the idea of “Xmas” taking “Christ” out of Christmas, become widespread. It’s only because of rising fears of secularization and wrong ideas about separation from worldliness, that the urban myth of “Xmas” being a removal of Christ still exists. In 1977, the Governor of New Hampshire issued a press release stating that journalists should cease taking the “Christ” out of “Christmas” as “Xmas” was a pagan spelling of Christmas. Perhaps he should have run that press release by a religious scholar before issuing it. Like anything, if we continue to be under educated about things, and because of our ignorance develop fear or separation … we then begin to lose the attachment to what Christmas really is … the celebration of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Understanding this use of Christian symbolism might help us modern day Xians focus on more important issues of the Faith during Advent, and bring a little more Peace to the Xmas Season.
Until Next Time