Saturday, December 4, 2010

Merry Xmas to You!

Merry Xmas to You!
By Rev. Greg Schermerhorn

Now that it is officially the Christmas season, Merry Xmas to you!  Don’t cringe, Xmas isn’t removing Christ from Christmas.  It is quite the opposite.  For nearly 1700 years, Christians have used “X” to symbolize Christ as part of their faith in Jesus Christ.  While the secular world may try to lay claim to Xmas as a way to remove Christ from Christmas, you need to know the truth about its origins.  Don’t let the world pervert the meaning of Xmas.  Educate your friends on its true meaning!

In the Greek, Christ is spelled Χριστος or ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, so because of this, the Greek letter chi, “X”, became the symbol of Christ.  Later, another symbol was added to the “X”.  It was the Greek letter rho, “P”, the second letter of the Greek word Christ.  These letters were joined together to form the labarum, “.  This symbol of our Christian heritage can be traced back as early as 317 A.D. to the Roman Emperor Constantine.  The labarum is widely used in Catholic, Orthodox, and many protestant churches. 

The use of the chi “X” itself or the chi-rho “” may well predate Emperor Constantine.  There is some evidence that these symbols were used like the Ichthys, ΙΧΘΥΣ, fish symbol where one Christian would draw one half of the fish and the other would complete the drawing.  In like manner, one Christian would begin the drawing of the symbol and the other would finish it.  This was a method of helping Christians distinguish friends from foes.

In 1436, Johannes Gutenberg invented moveable type printing.  Along with that process went the tedious and expensive process of typesetting.  As a result, all manner of abbreviations became common.  “C” and “X” became accepted ways of abbreviating Christ.  Words like Christmas became Xmas, Christian became Xian, Christianity became Xianity, names like Christensen became Xensen and Christine became Xine.  Historically, in these cases the “X” is not pronounced “EX”.  It is still pronounced “Christ…” so Merry Xmas is not “Merry EXmas” but “Merry Christmas”.  Now you know the truth about the origin of Xmas!