By in Holidays

Why Writing 'Xmas' is Not Disrespectful

With the cold winter weather already upon us, folks have begun their yearly campaign about the “reason for the season” and the politicizing of Christmas greetings. The denizens of Facebook want us all to know it is not acceptable to make substitutions like wishing our friends “Happy Holidays.” It is apparently also not OK with many of these folks to use abbreviations like “Xmas.”

Those who take issue with this expression believe it is disrespectful. Some have even suggested that “Xmas” is used by people who want to strike Christ out of Christmas. They couldn't be further from the truth.

We today are used to seeing the name Jesus Christ written as though it is a first and last name , and so perhaps it never strikes us as odd that the religion is “Christianity” and the holiday is “Christmas,” but the stories we were taught in Sunday School were all about “Jesus.”

In fact, Christ is not a name but rather a title . It comes to us from the Greek Khristos (ΧριστÏŒς) meaning “anointed one.” The Greek word is itself a translation of the Hebrew, “ Messiah .”

Have you ever wondered about the labarum , that almost sword-like symbol you often see on church banners and ritual regalia? It is a christogram , a sort of monogram that symbolizes the name of Christ. It is taken from the first two letters of the Greek word Khristos , the Chi ( χ ) and the Rho ( ρ .) The symbol was adopted by the emperor Constantine after his conversion, and was part of his military standard.

The labarum , or even just the letter chi, has long been used as a sacred symbol representing the Christ. Thus we will sometimes see words like “ Xian ” or “ Xmas ” used, even in quite old documents. Our ancestors had a reverence for symbols that many of us seem to have lost today. They saw a symbol like the letter chi as a powerful emblem , and not just as an abbreviation. It's the difference between using an iconic symbol, and abbreviating because you're texting a friend.

So when you see a holiday greeting that wishes you a “Merry Xmas,” remember that the X is really a Chi, and it isn't at all about trying to remove Jesus from your holiday celebrations. It's a traditional greeting, and a strong reminder of the presence of the Anointed One in the Christmas holidays.

HenkvD/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0) found at

This is my Holidays entry for DawnWriter 's A-W Category Challenge . It is the 33rd of 36 posts I have written, spanning all of the categories here at Persona Paper.

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Image credit s :

Christmas ornament by Gerd Altmann/ Pixabay ( CC0 1.0 )

C hurch featuring labarum by HenkvD/Wikipedia ( CC BY-S A 3.0 )

N ote: This post was adapted from one I had earlier published on Bubblews and have since removed

Image Credit »

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Kasman wrote on November 30, 2014, 6:56 PM

I think that the confusion some people have regarding Xmas is connected to the fact that Christmas for many people has drifted far away from its original meaning. Too many people simply see Christmas as a holiday free-for-all involving overindulging in anything and everything going and nothing to do with religion.

raighmon wrote on November 30, 2014, 7:15 PM

I don't know why some Christians are always creating fuss when it comes to their beliefs. No offense but some of them are now OA, to the extent that they judge others. For me, there's nothing wrong when you spell "Christmas" as "X-mas" unless you mean other way around.

BarbRad wrote on November 30, 2014, 7:24 PM

I wish more people understood this. It always bugs me that people who don't realize that the X stands for Christ rather than trying to diminish him get on these crusades when there are so many issues they ought to be addressing and aren't.

ViperGirl85 wrote on November 30, 2014, 7:30 PM

I never found it offensive. I just figured it was a way for people to shorten the word is all.

bestwriter wrote on November 30, 2014, 7:45 PM

What matters really is that Christmas or Xmas is celebrated with Christ in mind but unfortunately that is not the case. Form overpowers substance.

celticeagle wrote on November 30, 2014, 8:38 PM

How interesting. I just do it to be quick and never knew it had that meaning anyway.

AliCanary wrote on November 30, 2014, 10:18 PM

Thanks for getting the word out. I've known about this for a long time but get tired of trying to explain it. People can be so ignorant about their OWN beliefs!

AliCanary wrote on November 30, 2014, 10:22 PM

Along these lines, I once heard about a printing company that refused to print business cards for a local business owner who was Mexican American because his name was Jesus, and they considered that disrespectful. I guess they also didn't print cards for anyone named Mary, Joseph, Adam, Eve, Peter, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jacob, Rebecca, Esther, Mark, Luke, Matthew, Paul, Abraham, Sarah, Thomas...

CoralLevang wrote on December 1, 2014, 10:49 AM

And here I thought it was tough having a name like Coral.

CoralLevang wrote on December 1, 2014, 10:50 AM

This is one of my favorite articles I've read. Excellent.

scheng1 wrote on December 7, 2014, 4:12 AM

In the first place, celebrating of Christmas is not a Bible teaching.

Koalemos wrote on January 5, 2015, 2:51 PM

I came across this many years ago and it was apparently first used by the members of a monastery in order to abbreviate the word and speed up the writing of scrolls etcetera. I cannot remember the name of the particular order of monks involved, but the term is now commonplace. The term Xian is also used to replace Christian.

grandma20121 wrote on January 13, 2015, 11:29 AM

i know its kind of strange some times when i am in a hurry i might use the writing xmas or whe I am feeling kind of lazy I also then write xmas, I honestly do not feel like there is nothing disrespectful of using xmas in place of Christmas, but I guess facebook and others have there own thoughts on this subject.