Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » Putting the X in Christmas


Ever wonder why we see the "Xmas" instead of the longer version "Christmas?" It is something I have never really understood why so many Christians get so upset over. Contrary to popular belief that this is a way to take Christ out of Christmas, it would seem a more literal attempt of splitting Christ from the Mass. However, this is not true either. The "X" is an abbreviation that has been used for centuries and is one of the oldest Christian symbols that we have over the past 2,000 years.

"It is Greek to me."

Of course it is. The word "Christ" in Greek begins with an "X" and is followed by a "P." You may have seen the ancient X with a P over it, commonly known as the chi-rho. So by placing the “X” in front of “mas” it is really just an abbreviation of the word “Christmas.”

In a similar sense, the new secular wishful phrase, “Happy Holiday.” It is difficult to get around the idea that you are still wishing someone a religious greeting for the “Happy Holiday” really means “Happy Holy Day.” I realize the intention may be to secularize or pluralize the greeting, but the meaning really hasn’t changed.

What about the old pre-Christian symbol of the Christmas tree? Well, not so fast. The Christmas tree is also Christian in its origin. It was used in medieval plays called “mystery plays or miracle plays.” These plays tried to educate the faithful on biblical stories through the medium of acting. What does it have to do with a tree? Well, these plays would rehearse the Garden of Eden scene and use a tree with apples to represent the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the another tree decorated with sweet things to represent the Tree of Life. How does this show up on Christmas? Well, in the Eastern Orthodox church, December 24th is the feast of Adam and Eve. As these mystery plays were suppressed in the 1400s, they were moved from the stage and into the homes of the faithful.

Decorating the house with Christmas lights? Again, it has a very religious significance. The Irish would place a candle(s) in their window around Christmas so that a priest would know that the house would welcome them offering Mass in that location. This was during the days that celebrating Mass was considered criminal by the British. When the British would ask what the candles were for, the Irish would reply that they were inviting Joseph and Mary into their house.

So anyway, these are a few of the old traditions that have made the test of time!