Christians can use the term Xmas with a clear conscience! I know some of you might have just spit out your hot chocolate. For that, I am sorry. But before you start a social media campaign to oust me as the “Anti-CHRIST mas” pastor who deserves to be exiled with the Abominable Snowman, I ask read the next few paragraphs. If you are unconvinced by argument for Xmas, you may happily label me a Scrooge.
Why We Dislike Xmas
Many Christians view Xmas as an attack on the person of Christ. Removing Christ from the word Christmas seems to be synonymous with removing baby Jesus from his manger. The story of salvation and hope displayed in the manager scenes fades into Christmas lore if there is no baby Jesus. And if Christ disappears from Christmas, Christians seemingly allow their culture to wipe Jesus from the center of Christmas. Thus, may Christians are tempted to give Xmas practitioners a Grinchy stare, because Christians want to honor Christ.
Moreover, the letter X carries a negative meaning for many Americans. Stores write large Xs on price tags to communicate that an item’s original price has been replaced with a more attractive price. While Christians love sales, they cannot warm up to the idea of Xing-out Jesus from Christmas. We believe Christ is relevant for today’s world and is the most attractive person in the whole of Christmas. Thus, Christians bristle when people intentionally or unintentionally cross out Christ from Christmas. Christians are rightfully devoted to their Lord and Savior.
The Real Meaning of Xmas
I applaud my friends’ concern and share their passion to see Christ worshiped during Christmas. But Xmas is not the brainchild of modern secularists who are intent on stealing Christmas away from Christians. Xmas is not an attack on Jesus and the gospel. Xmas is actually an abbreviation, a shorthand, for the word Christmas.
The X that appears in Xmas does not represent the English letter X. Consequently, the symbol cannot represent that something has been crossed out.
The X represents the Greek letter Chi which closely resembles the English X. (The end of the Greek letter Chi is slightly curved as you can see in the picture.) The letter Chi is the first Greek letter in the word Christos (Χρήστος) which we translate as Christ. Several hundred years ago, Xmas first appeared in the writings of Catholic monks and clerics. Printers later embrace the letter X and Xmas as shorthand for Christ and Christmas. The expression very much values the presence of Christ in Christmas, employing one of the original New Testament languages and a symbol that has almost universally been identified with Christ for thousands of years.
We readily use such shorthand in everyday life without any reservation. For example, we refer to our country as both the United States of America and the U.S.A. We use the terms interchangeably without our patriotism being questioned. We text LOL without having our friends doubt our sense of humor (Ok…maybe they do, but that is another issue). We refer the University of Georgia both by its proper name and by UGA without having our devotion to the school questioned. We call Jill both Jill and J without our love for her being questioned. We refer to John as both Juan and John without jeopardizing our friendship. And, we have the freedom in Christ to happily bounce between Xmas and Christmas as both words express a firm commitment to keeping Christ in Christmas.
There are many battles for Christians to fight. But the Xmas battle is not one of them. It’s not a battle at all. It’s friendly fire as Christians are throwing snow balls at a word that very much keeps Christ in Christmas.
Instead of trying to stomp Xmas out of usage, I think Christians should wisely employ the age-old term. We should use the X in Xmas as an opportunity for explaining the gospel message.
And done. I hope we are still friends!
What are you thoughts about Xmas?