The True Meaning of “X”mas

Derek Ouellette —  December 25, 2009 — 6 Comments

A modern misconception understands the “X” in “X-mas” as a supplanting of Christ by, literally, crossing him out of the season which – we may say – used to bear his name. I say “misconception” because I came to learn recently that the “X” in “X-mas” has very early Christian roots.

Some Greek and the “X” of History

The name of Christ in biblical Greek is spelt (transliterated) something like this: Christus (Xpistos) (see chart). The first letter, “X“, is Chi (promounced something like “he” – spat like a cat while you say it and you’ll be close).

The “X” was used as an abbreviation for “Christ” in early Christian thought. The first obvious example which comes to mind is the “Jesus Fish” acronym, spelt something like I.X.TH.U.S (see chart). Many people don’t know about the acronym, but that doesn’t stop anyone from sticking them on the bumper of their cars.

The second example is the ancient Christian symbol still in use, mostly in the Orthodox tradition, which combines the “X” with the “P” (rho), to abbreviate “Christ” (again, see chart).

When the ancient abbreviation for Christ, “X“, is married to the ancient Latin Church word “mass“, the end result is “X-mas” or, as we say today, Christmas.

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. – An Angel

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
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  • http://someblogonhere. Brad Dickey

    And from what I understand, the early members of The Way, who were hunted down, persecuted to death, before Constantine and CHI RHO drew the fish, in the sand, with the letters to make sure they were of the same faith. So the ICTHYS existed before the chi rho.

    :)

  • http://someblogonhere. Brad Dickey

    Why don’t you tackle this one! PAUL said SHIT while he preached. In phil 3:8. Here is a good link to back it up. But it may test how some believe on the topic. I love the “swear word” debate conversation… It’s a whole colossians 2 nightmare for those who make issues of it.

    http://bible.org/article/brief-word-study-font-facegreekskuvbalonfont

    http://bible.org/article/toward-evangelical-theology-cussing

  • Geneinne

    Interesting that ‘X’ was an early Christian symbol but as how most people now days do not have that understanding u can see in this day of ‘Christ’ being erased from so many things and institutions that ‘ Merry Xmas’ could be upsetting. I still like to see the word ‘ Christ’ in Christmas!

  • brad.dickey@gmail.com

    late thought:

    I think if you go back to when the, “they took Christ out of Christmas” tripe you’ll probably find that the rumor started around the time the “commie threat” was making piles in front of bulldozers of Christian people. This is the time frame IN GOD WE TRUST was found on the coins, etc…

  • PG

    Be teachable however when someone says eksmas to you when reading it.