Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Abbreviations

I must confess, I'm an abbreviator. I picked it up in college when one's expected to take notes at lightening-fast speed, and I continued my abbreviated habits throughout multiple jobs, where using medical abbreviations was an unspoken requirement. I saw a sign the other day along a road on which I commonly travel, and it had the word Christmas abbreviated to 'XMas'. I remember as a kid learning that one should NEVER use this abbreviation, because it is putting an X on Christ. I don't think this is something that my parents taught me, but rather something I just picked up through friends in the faith community or society in general. Frankly, I can't place blame directly on anyone, it's just there. Anyhow, for some reason this concept has always stuck with me and I rarely use the X to abbreviate the word. However, I find myself sometimes wanting to, simply because it takes extra effort to write the entire word! Something about getting the 'r' to loop into the 'i' is tricky for me at times when I'm in a hurry.

To be perfectly honest (*ahem* true and real), I don't see what all the fuss is about. If I really was intentional about putting an X on Christ, I wouldn't be celebrating Christmas to begin with! I think somebody somewhere had too much time on their hands and decided that they had to find something new with which to infuriate the Christian public. It's always something, right? Back in my day, (because I'm Sooo old), it was using an X to take the Christ out of Christmas. Nowadays, all I hear about is the commercialization of Christmas. Either way, it is somebody deciding that we Christians should create a big uproar every season so we can fight for our holiday. Can I just say, WHATEVER. I can celebrate Christmas with an X on it, and I can certainly celebrate it whether or not the stores decide to sell Christmas in July. I keep Christ in my Christmas because I want to, and because I see Christ's birth as a reason to celebrate.

Therefore, this holiday season, I am choosing to put aside my deeply interwoven beliefs about the Christmas abbreviation. If I need to write a quick 'XMas' then I will, and I will not feel guilty about it. TYVM. :)


Sherill said...

Luckily there is no need to feel guilty for abbreviating Christmas as Xmas! The practice goes back to the middle ages when most folks couldn't read but they knew their Christian symbols. The "X" is the Greek letter "Chi" which is the same as the English letter "CH" and is a monogram for Christ. So when they saw Xmas they knew it was the Christ mass.

Chi is used frequently as a sign for Christ. In fact, I suspect if you go up in the Sanctuary, you'll see lots of examples of the Chi being used.

So no need to feel guilty--but now you can educate your friends and family and wow them with your knowledge.

For more info, Wikipedia actually has a great article on Xmas.

Jenny said...

Awesome! Thanks for the info, Sherill. I knew I could count on you. :)

Steph said...

Sherill beat me to it! I was going to use the same explanation of X in Christmas. :-) But I know what you mean. This is also the first year I've used the Xmas abbreviation in as long as I can remember. But whatever-- we're celebrating it for all the right reasons.