The “X” in Christmas

“Merry Xmas!” Are you one of those people who frown when the abbreviation Xmas is used instead of the word Christmas as you somehow believe that using such abbreviation is taking Christ out of Christmas, literally and figuratively? Surprisingly, there is nothing wrong in using Xmas as it turns out that the word itself has a religious origin.

The word Xmas, which was first used in 1551 to mean “Christmas,” is somehow connected to the symbol “☧,” which can be seen most especially inside the church. It is a monogram created by the church in the early days to represent the name of Jesus. The “X” in Xmas is the Greek letter “chi” (pronounced as “kye”), and the “ρ” is the Greek letter “rho.” These represent the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ, ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, which is Kristos or Christos in Latin. Meanwhile, the second syllable, mas, came from mass, a Roman Catholic religious service. In short, the word Christmas is a church service that celebrates the birth of Jesus.

Although the word Xmas has a religious origin, for appropriateness, some style guides do not recommend using it, most especially in formal writing, as people who have no idea about the origin of the word may find it offensive. Moreover, it must be kept in mind that it should always be pronounced as “Christmas” rather than “exmas.”

With this, Lexcode would like to greet you a merry Xmas and a happy new year!