X Marks the Spot
'Tis the season to be offended.
Let's face it, America today is infested by a big gaggle of crybabies that feels the overwhelming desire to keep thin skin, carry a chip on their shoulder, and be offended at the drop of a hat. One segment of this tribe is offended if you have a Jesus-centered display, the other segment is offended if you don't. We hear moans and groans about the political correctness or religiosity of statements like "Season's Greetings", "Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmas". I can just see the hate and ire embedded in each of these horribly offensive statements and I know why you could equal each one to the good ol' one-fingered wave.
Frankly, I am offended that they are offended. Let's build a bridge and get over it.
That in mind, there is one particular offensive statement that I want to disarm right now. The dreaded, terrible, horrible one. The one that makes small children cry for their mommies and leaves grown men suffering mind-altering nightmares that sit up in bed with a scream and a cold sweat. That right, I mean that one the big one. The X--- one.
So why is it that we have "Xmas"? Where did it come from. Obviously, some liberal set out on a campaign to "x-out" Christ from Christmas. That is the only answer.
Or is it?
Let's try this one: The “X” in Xmas is in no way an attempt to eliminate Christ from Christmas. On the contrary, “Xmas” goes back several centuries in Church history and is even evident in many traditions and denominations of the Church today. Instead of being an English alphabet “x” the letter is actually a Greek letter Chi that is the first portion of the monogram of Christ as shown in the labarum – “Chi-Rho” – represented in the Greek “XP”. The Greek word “Χριστός” is the word we translate into English as “Christ”. So just as we might shorten the name Christopher to Chris we could also shorten Χριστός to X. And people have used this shortened version for several centuries – not as a substitution, but as a more familiar and casual expression.
Here is the funny part. This simple knowledge can allow one of the offended groups to drop the argument entirely. We can have some peace on Christmas (or Xmas) by just smiling when we see it, knowing what it means and knowing that if an ignorant person thinks they are trying to "x-out" Jesus, they are really just identifying Him in a more familiar and casual manner and that Christ is honored - what was meant for evil has been used for good.
I hope that you did not allow the beginning of this one offend you to the point of not reaching this far. I hope you find the meaning of Christmas in that Christ can for peace, good will toward men. Most of all I hope you have a blessed and holy Xmas.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire