Something About the “X”

Uppercase and lowercase Greek letter chi, the ...
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I used to be angered seeing sings which read “Merry Xmas.” It disturbed me because I though that people are going beyond normal standards of commercialism that they are even taking out the “Christ” out of Christ-mas. I saw this as a perversion. You could even see my face going red and my skin turning green. I was having a “hulk” attack! Well, that’s me being plain imaginative, but I was that kind of frame of mind and emotion. I was welling up with righteous prophetic anger.

But going to seminary helped me see a different side of the story. We learned in theology class about certain short-forms that we used to ascribe to God and also Christ. They were in fact Greek letters. Anyway for those who do not know, the New Testament was written in Greek so the letters  like “X” is the Greek equivalent of “Chi.”

I have to emphasize though that it’s not supposed to be in seminary that church goers need to know these information though. If we consider ourselves Christians, we should in fact be interested to know some foundational history about our faith. This is something I see as a weakness that the church and Christians (Xtians for that matter) are all to good at. We want just the basics, and we think that our history and tradition are simply stupid. Well, I guess we can say that we aren’t good Christians if we ignore some of the basic stuff out there about our faith.

I mean, there is a wealth of knowledge out there, even at the tip of our fingers. But with such a vast database of information we have on the net, we ignore to investigate and create enough interest for getting to know our faith.

Well, anyway, that’s me going ahead of what I’m supposed to do here explaining the “X.” Someone posted about this on the net and the author states that

“X” is arguably one of the oldest traditions we have for writing the name of Christ, especially among the mostly illiterate masses who lived more than 500 years ago. Dates vary and the usage has had it’s own ebb and flow, but some scholars claim to trace the use of “X” (or the Greek letter Chi, hehehehe) all the way back to the First Century! Whoa! That’s like there, man!

Another author who posted here tells that we do not own Christmas by saying that

It is time we all faced the fact that we live in a pluralistic society. No one is keeping Christians from keeping Christmas. Ours is not, however, the only religion in town. Many people of many faiths celebrate holidays around the time of the winter solstice. It is not an insult to wish someone, whose faith you may not know, “Happy Holidays.” If you take offense at a kind wish, it only reflects badly on you.

He goes on to say that

There is a drug store in my town with a marquee sign out front. This time of year they advertise special prices on “C-MAS CARDS” and other “C-MAS” merchandise. I think I see what they are doing. The sign is only so large. An abbreviation for the word “Christmas” is useful. They are a retail establishment. Offending customers is not a wise business practice.

Sometimes we get so tight up in defending Christmas but it is in fact (well many can argue against this) a pagan holiday which Christians had Christianized. It’s not wrong for them to do so, to take it and infuse meaning to it. See for example the post I did on the Christmas Tree.

But for whatever you might think about the “X” in Xmas, it’s not taking Christ out of Christmas. We have other things to worry about what people do when leaving Christ out of it. It’s easy. Anyways people take Christ away from everything else.

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