Tuesday 24 December 2013

X is for...Xmas

It's simply a modern lazy way of writing Christmas and a way to take the 'Christ' out of Christmas. Or is it? The origin of the 'X' in Xmas does have a significant link back to Jesus. At first glance the 'X' is the symbol of a cross which needs no further explanation. The New Testament was written in Greek and Christ is written XPIΣTOΣ . Clearly the first two letters are X and P. Put together the Greek letters chi (c or C) and rho (r or R) form the chi-rho monogram of ☧. Over the years this has been shortened to just X.

The use of X as an abbreviation for Christ spread over the years. Once Johannes Gutenberg had invented the printing press with moveable type in the 15th Century the abbreviation to Xmas became a necessity as typesetting was a very long and expensive process. This was approved by the Church for use in religious books and pamphlets and soon this was also used in newspapers and other publications. However, just like the abbreviation Mr is still pronounced Mister, Xmas should be said as Christmas and not X-mas.

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