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Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Richard Travale, Dec 27, 2003.
I have been wondering about this for years. How did we get 'Xmas' from the word Christmas?
X is a common abbreviation for Christ. (more specifically, X is chi, the first letter of Christ's name in Greek)
X is the sound you make when you say "cksss." Like Trix. I thought it just makes spelling it easier.
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 ( ), Hebrew, and - I think, but I'm not sure about that - Japanese, Chinese and Arab languages. Cees
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".
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. Jim
Thanks guys. I had always assumed it was a laziness issue (how ironic that I was too lazy to find out before now ).
I always figured it was cause Christ was on the cross, the X looks like a cross. I don't know, it was possible.
Exact same with my parents - I was taught that it was laziness & disrespectful to use Xmas.
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.
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?
Dutch: dunno Hebrew: yep Japanese: nope Chinese: dunno Arab: yep
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.
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.
Agreed on modern common usage. It's just easier and more convenient in this OMG/WTF/LOL world.