The Value of “X” in Xmas

The X Factor in Christmas / Xmas

Here’s a little game we can play. I’ll give the abbreviation and you name the person or character the abbreviation stands for . . . ready?

J Lo      _________

FDR     _________

Dr J      _________

Ike       _________

007       _________

CP3      _________



Several years ago I was writing notes in a Bible class I was taking. I  copied what the professor was writing on the board. Typically he would use the Greek letter theta instead of writing the word ‘God.’  The use of an O with a line across the middle was our shorthand abbreviation for God. I learned that Theos is the Greek word for God. (Theology: the study of God)

As class went on and the lecture unfolded, he referred to Jesus Christ. The teacher used the Greek letter chi (x) as an abbreviation for Christ. None of the other students questioned it; neither did I. Through my theological educational I learned that there was a long standing history behind these abbreviations.

We Christians often lament the fact that Xmas has become associated with the commercialization of Christmas.  For some, ‘Xmas’ is an offensive four-letter-word that pops up earlier and earlier each year. One friend of mine said, “We need to stand up against the secular system that wants to X-out Christ.”

But ‘Xmas’ is a modern conspiracy to secularize this Holy season. The abbreviation actually belongs to the church.

X has a long and sacred history

There’s a long and sacred history regarding the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ. Plenty of articles and information already exist that are just a ‘click’ away. Hmmmm, should I cut & paste? If only I could create one of those cool internet blue-words that magically takes you to a relevant site. Sorry, I do not understand the strange magic of technology and therefore dare not attempt such things. My point is, you don’t have to take my word for it. Or was that my point?

Side Bar — Just How Lazy Am I?   Just the other day one of my Facebook friends posted a link that urged me to, “Put Christ back into Christmas” as sort of a protest for using X for the name of Christ. (I was too lazy to “like” the idea and join in the protest, even though it was much easier than making a sign and marching somewhere.) I wonder if I could join Occupy Wall Street with a click? Clicking would be much easier and I don’t like sleeping in tents or pepper spray.

Where was I?

See Jesus Christ in Xmas

The history behind the X is not a conspiracy, but an abbreviation. I took algebra in the ninth grade and the crazy teacher stepped to the board and asked us to “find the value of x.” I thought Mr. Mayfield was a whacko because he was using letters in a numbers class. I don’t mind telling you, I’ve been confused about math ever since.

But, you know what Mr. Mayfield? I thank you for that question. By the grace of God I hope to spend my life on earth and in the eternal Kingdom of God doing just that… finding the value of X.





3 thoughts on “The Value of “X” in Xmas”

  1. Hope you don’t mind – I used your blog for a devotional tonight at our Youth Group Christmas Party. The kids enjoyed learning the true meaning behind the X of X-mas. Have a very merry X-mas!

  2. THanks Megan… and thanks for making me grin . . . I have no historic takes on our propensity to abbrev. lang. I’d like to give an award to the person who invent contractions though.

  3. Thank you for that. I get so much flack for using Xmas instead of spelling it out. My argument up to now was that the name of the Christ is still in Xmas as much as it is in Christmas… Not like I was calling it ‘Mas, sheesh, and never mind that little idiotic lazy habits don’t make one any less religious! But it’s good to know that I may in fact be an older-school Christian than them 🙂 and I may be able to shut them up for good.

    P.S. I also use b/c for because and w/o for without, professional hazard from years of note taking. Do you have a cool historic take on those too, oh wise one?

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