X is for Xmas

How timely that for ABC Wednesday we are on the letter X. The history of the letter X as used in Xmas is fascinating and does not take away from Christ in Christmas.


It was first used in the mid 1500s. X is the Greek letter “chi,” the initial letter in the word Χριστός. And here’s the kicker: Χριστός means “Christ.” X has been an acceptable representation of the word “Christ” for hundreds of years. This device is known as a Christogram. The mas in Xmas is the Old English word for “mass.”  (The thought-provoking etymology of “mass” can be found here.) In the same vein, the dignified terms Xpian and Xtian have been used in place of the word “Christian.” Source.

At this old house Christmas is all about Jesus Christ and his arrival on this earth with His mission to bring the Truth (He is the truth) and to ultimately die on the cross for our sins. I’m not getting my knickers in a knot over the use of X instead of Christ for Christmas. Some of these over 100 year old postcards from Dear’s Great Great Aunt have both Xmas and Merry Christmas on them.

More explanation from R.C. Sproul with Ligonier Ministries, “First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.”

These postcards were mailed in December of 1909!

A very Merry Christmas and A Merry Xmas to all my ABC Wednesday friends!

Thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt for starting ABC Wednesday and for Roger and the team for administrating the weekly meme!

So are you prepared for Christmas? We are getting soaked here in the Pacific Northwest! Lots of snow in the mountains, too. How are things in your part of the world?

19 thoughts on “X is for Xmas

  1. Ah you’re early for Wednesday:) Since i took Greek as a language for my BA I never thought anything of Xmas. As a matter of fact, I chose the same for the X since I couldn’t find any other x-word that would fit with my post. Have a wonderful Xmas!

  2. We are getting soaked here too, perhaps not as much as you, but much more than the past four years. All praise to God for His refreshing rain! And thank you for enlightening us all about the X in Xmas! I used to get my knickers in a knot about that in the past, but once I learned what it really means, it is just as beautiful as the name of Christ for which it stands. Blessings to you and yours.

  3. Great commentary on the X for Xmas. I use it often when writing about Christmas. Some think we are X-ing out Christ, but as you’ve so eloquently stated, it is quite the opposite! Loving cards you have preserved there. Do you put them around your house during Xmas?

  4. A white Christmas here in southern British Columbia, but expect the sun to shine on Christmas day. Thank you for reiterating the old traditional meaning of X in Xmas, and a very merry one to you|!

  5. This is such a perfectly wonderful explanation of the meaning and should be a lesson to all those who ” get their knickers in a knot” over all the wrong things! Merry XMas and Christmas … And for that matter, Happy Holidays to all at your lovely home (and hopes that you don’t wash away… I check in with our Washington and Oregon families every couple of days, to make sure they haven’t). The snow is a great thing though!

  6. Very appropriate and much needed explanation of Xmas and wonderful vintage cards ~ a delight ~ thanks!

    Wishing you the magic and love of this season today and everyday,
    artmusedog and carol

  7. I did the same thing this go-round but added shots of a street nearby where everyone decorates their houses so beautifully. LOVE the 1909 cards! Merry Xmas to you and yours!!!

  8. Popping in to wish you and yours a blessed Christmas!! Isn’t it amazing that He came?!

    I enjoy our online friendship, Ellen! Looking forward to a new year of connecting!

  9. Thanks for the history, Ellen! I knew the X had been used for a long time and had its roots in Greek. For my own notes about the celebration, I tend to use Cmas. It’s sunny but cool and very breezy today here in So Cal. Christmas day is often very autumnal with leaves blowing every which way (but mostly onto my back patio).

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