December 11, 2022
(Excerpts from Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas)
Over the past 60 or so years, Christians have been lamenting the commercialization of Christmas. One of the ways that Christmas has seemed to have been commercialized is the way that it gets abbreviated down to Xmas. However, this isn’t a new concept nor is it irreverent like popular opinion seems to believe. Substituting X for Christ dates back to the earliest days of the Christian church. The word Christ, when written in Greek starts with a chi (χ). Gentile Christians would use the chi as a symbol of their faith, much like the more well-known ichthus (fish). They would use the chi to mark their places of worship, making it one of the oldest symbols of the Christian faith. Early Christians would often trace a chi on the graves of martyrs, making the chi the ultimate symbol of sacrifice and devotion.
The chi was also an important symbol for Christ in the Middle Ages, when most of the population was illiterate. By drawing a chi, it was an easy way for anyone to spell out what defined their faith. As time went on, the clergy began to use the chi to point out that while Jesus’ birth was important, it was his death and resurrection that gave real meaning to the Christian faith. The chi kind of looks like a cross.
It has only been recently that writing Xmas has been looked down upon by Christians, mostly because we have lost the knowledge of what it means in our Christian history. Our Ancient Greek ancestors would see the use of Xmas as one of the most powerful and wonderful traditions of our modern Christmas.