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Where did "Xmas" come from?

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15 replies to this topic

#1 of 16 OFFLINE   Richard Travale

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Posted December 27 2003 - 06:43 AM

I have been wondering about this for years. How did we get 'Xmas' from the word Christmas?
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#2 of 16 OFFLINE   MartinTeller



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Posted December 27 2003 - 06:45 AM

X is a common abbreviation for Christ. (more specifically, X is chi, the first letter of Christ's name in Greek)

#3 of 16 OFFLINE   Scott L

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Posted December 27 2003 - 07:16 AM

X is the sound you make when you say "cksss." Like Trix. I thought it just makes spelling it easier.

#4 of 16 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted December 27 2003 - 07:44 AM

The proper sound of the Greek 'Chi' is not present in most languages. It's a guttural "h", like 'kh'. It's a very common sound in Dutch (Posted Image ), Hebrew, and - I think, but I'm not sure about that - Japanese, Chinese and Arab languages.


#5 of 16 OFFLINE   Garrett Lundy

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Posted December 27 2003 - 09:00 AM

The "X" character is the closest thing we have to the archaic Greek "chi" character, which is better represented by the blair witch stickman, or an "anhk".
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#6 of 16 OFFLINE   Oliver Kopp

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Posted December 27 2003 - 10:52 AM

lazieness Posted Image

#7 of 16 OFFLINE   Henry Gale

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Posted December 27 2003 - 12:18 PM

I grew up with the belief that it was a disrespectful shortcut. This was knowledge (OK, ignorance) passed along by my Methodist minister father. Only much later did I learn about the Greek origin.
Gawd, I hope this isn't religious because I'm certainly not. Posted Image


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#8 of 16 OFFLINE   Richard Travale

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Posted December 27 2003 - 01:28 PM

Thanks guys. I had always assumed it was a laziness issue (how ironic that I was too lazy to find out before now Posted Image).
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#9 of 16 OFFLINE   Mark Shannon

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Posted December 27 2003 - 02:00 PM

I always figured it was cause Christ was on the cross, the X looks like a cross. I don't know, it was possible.

#10 of 16 OFFLINE   BrianB



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Posted December 27 2003 - 05:03 PM

Exact same with my parents - I was taught that it was laziness & disrespectful to use Xmas.
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#11 of 16 OFFLINE   BrianW



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Posted December 28 2003 - 06:06 AM

Far from being disrespectful and a by-product of commercialization, "X-mas" was first adopted, along with other non-religious traditions of the season, by believers in order to avoid persecution. I did some research on this long ago, and that's what I discovered, anyway. Unfortunately, I'm unable to provide links to twenty-year-old research, so you'd be advised to check up on my work before you take what I say at face value. History can be fun.
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#12 of 16 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted December 28 2003 - 08:20 AM

I have the same experience with Protestants thinking "Xmas" a secularization of the holiday, related to the anthem "Put the Christ back in Christmas." As I learned more about ancient Christians the use of the "X" either as a representation for Christ, related to the Greek "Chi," seemed to be a better explanation than people trying to forget about Christ's birth. Which is funny, because shouldn't this have occurred to all those ministers who went through seminary?

#13 of 16 OFFLINE   Paul_Sjordal


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Posted December 28 2003 - 08:52 AM

Dutch: dunno Hebrew: yep Japanese: nope Chinese: dunno Arab: yep
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#14 of 16 OFFLINE   larry mac

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Posted December 28 2003 - 09:04 AM

There are very few that know the origins of this; I just learned it via the internet last year. Those that use it probably don't know anything about the origins. I would be willing to bet that almost 100% of the current usage is for convenance. It's easier and shorter. There also are probably some (heathens probably- just kidding- really!)that feel it is more appropriate for them as it has a more casual, or rather a less religous sound to it. I've never used it. Not because it offends me in any way; but because it does others.

#15 of 16 OFFLINE   Grant B

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Posted December 28 2003 - 09:49 AM

I would put our common usage more on Western Union than persecution. When you pay by the letter, it's common to use tricks to keep fees lower. Now telegrams are a quaint form of communication seen on old movies, but it was the most reliable form of communications for over a 100 years. Also being a ham radio operator when I was a kid, I knew and used morse code. When you are pounding out dots and dashes you figure out ways to save time.
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#16 of 16 OFFLINE   BrianW



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Posted December 28 2003 - 10:48 AM

Agreed on modern common usage. It's just easier and more convenient in this OMG/WTF/LOL world.
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