Sunday, December 10, 2006

Why Call it Xmas?

Occasionally, I've heard people complain about using the abbreviation "xmas." I used to be one of them. Fortunately I got an attitude adjustment because of some new (to me) information. From the American Heritage dictionary:
Xmas has been used for hundreds of years in religious writing, where the X represents a Greek chi, the first letter of , “Christ.” In this use it is parallel to other forms like Xtian, “Christian.” But people unaware of the Greek origin of this X often mistakenly interpret Xmas as an informal shortening.... Many therefore frown upon the term Xmas because it seems to them a commercial convenience that omits Christ from Christmas.
Bruce Satterfield was the person who first introduced me to this information. On his web site he has a paper of symbols of Christ we can find in Christmas. He is appropriating symbols that didn't originally point to Christ but which can still be useful reminders if we want them to be.


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  • In the LDS community I think the Term Xmas is frowned upon primarily becasue BRM wrote negatively of it in Mormon Doctrine, as I recall pointing out that the X was somehow related to a symbol for the Cross.

    Matt W.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/11/2006 8:56 AM  

  • Interesting catch, Matt. Here is the quotation from Mormon Doctrine.

    "Since the letter X has been accepted as an abbreviation for Christ, it is not uncommon to find Christmas abbreviated as Xmas, Christian as Xn or Xtian, and Christianity as Xty. These abbreviations do not partake of the real spirit of reverence that should attend a reference to Deity, or to something closely associated with him, and accordingly their use should be discouraged."

    By Blogger Bradley Ross, at 12/11/2006 9:49 PM  

  • After finding the above quote from BRM, I was curious to know how the term 'xmas' would show up in a search on GospeLink. The first hits seemed to be quotes from historical documents where the term had been used. I found a speech by Boyd K. Packer at BYU in 1962 where he said, "I shudder when I see the sign that says 'Merry Xmas.' It is symbolic, I suppose, of what has been done in an effort to cross Christ out of Christmas."

    I highly value the opinions of both Elder McConkie and Elder Packer. On this insignificant point, however, I think we disagree.

    By Blogger Bradley Ross, at 12/11/2006 9:57 PM  

  • So I guess it's like calling it Cmas?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/12/2006 9:14 AM  

  • Hey Brad,

    Nice post. And good to see you!


    By Blogger Artemis, at 12/13/2006 1:28 PM  

  • woops, make that


    havin' trouble typing lately....

    By Blogger Artemis, at 12/13/2006 1:30 PM  

  • Artemis, don't tease me like that! I can see that you know all my deep, dark secrets, so drop me a line so I can figure out who you are! :-) bar33byu (at) hotmail.com

    By Blogger Bradley Ross, at 12/13/2006 10:10 PM  

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