Friday, December 09, 2005

X-mas

Before someone gets ontpo me for using the term in a comment on Dianna's post, read this

From: Wikipedia

Xmas (or X-mas) is an abbreviation for Christmas. It is derived from the word ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, transliterated as Christos, which is Greek for Christ. Greek is the language in which the whole New Testament was written.

Originally, in "Xmas", X represented the Greek letter χ (see chi). It was pronounced with an aspirated [kh], which is the first letter of Christ's name in Greek. However, because an upper-case χ has the same shape as a Latin alphabet letter X, many people who do not know the history assume that this abbreviation is meant to "take Christ out of Christmas" as a means of secularization or a vehicle for political correctness.

The occasionally seen belief that the X represents the cross Christ was crucified on has no basis in fact; St Andrew's Cross is X-shaped, but Christ's cross was probably shaped like a T or a †. Indeed, X-as-chi was associated with Christ long before X-as-cross could be. The use of X as an abbreviation for cross in modern abbreviated writing (e.g. "Kings X" for "Kings Cross") may have reinforced this assumption.

In ancient Christian art χ and χρ (Chi Ro--the first two letters in Greek of Christos) are abbreviations for Christ's name. In many manuscripts of the New Testament and icons, X is an abbreviation for Christos, as is XC (the first and last letters in Greek, using the lunate sigma); compare IC for Jesus in Greek. The Oxford English Dictionary documents the use of this abbreviation back to 1551, 50 years before the first English colonists came to North America and 60 years before the King James Version of the Bible was completed. At the same time, Xian and Xianity were in frequent use as abbreviations of "Christian" and "Christianity".

The abbreviation is widely but not universally accepted; some view it as demeaning to Christ, whilst others find it helpful to use in text messages and emails to save space. Similarly, Xianity is sometimes used as the abbreviation for Christianity (although this usage is much less common than "Xmas"). This usage has extended to "xtal" for "crystal", and on florists' signs "xant" for "chrysanthemum" (though these words are not etymologically related to "Christ" — crystal comes from a Greek word meaning "ice", and chrysanthemum from a Greek word meaning "golden flower", while Christ comes from a Greek word meaning "anointed").

8 comments:

bigsip said...

I'd read this before, I think.

Language is so cool! I love all the ins and outs of it. Thanks, Chuck!

Diana said...

That's why it bothers me when People say you're Xing out Christ. It just shows their ignorance.

bigsip said...

I guess the Christmas/Holiday debate just doesn't really matter to me very much.

I really don't care a whole lot other than the fact that it seems that people want to secularize everything, which is silly.

If people want to have a tradition (which Xmas is) they should have it. But, I don't personally feel that Jesus is who most people are celebrating.

Jamison said...

I cant wait for easter. I love holiday eggs being delivered to my house by a giant holiday rabbit.

At least on xmas we all give gifts, like the wise men did. What the heck does a rabbit giving eaggs have to do with the reserection?

kermitgrn said...

The Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny is not a modern invention. The symbol originated with the pagan festival of Eastre. The goddess, Eastre, was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons through her earthly symbol, the rabbit.

The Germans brought the symbol of the Easter rabbit to America. It was widely ignored by other Christians until shortly after the Civil War. In fact, Easter itself was not widely celebrated in America until after that time.

The Easter Egg

As with the Easter Bunny and the holiday itself, the Easter Egg predates the Christian holiday of Easter. The exchange of eggs in the springtime is a custom that was centuries old when Easter was first celebrated by Christians.

From the earliest times, the egg was a symbol of rebirth in most cultures. Eggs were often wrapped in gold leaf or, if you were a peasant, colored brightly by boiling them with the leaves or petals of certain flowers.

Today, children hunt colored eggs and place them in Easter baskets along with the modern version of real Easter eggs -- those made of plastic or chocolate candy.

From: http://wilstar.com/holidays/easter.htm

Jamison said...

good grief! America was found on chistian principals and we all worship paegan holidays!

Brewster said...

In France there is no Easter Bunny. A bit giant bell brings the candy from somewhere down south.

David Sedaris tells a hilarious story about trying to explain to a non American, non english speaker, non christian about the American version of easter in his broken French.

I have a copy I may try to post sometime. Or you can search NPR.org and find it, I believe.

Trying to explain exactly why a giant bunny hiding colored eggs and bringing chocolate celebrates the resurrection of God is kind of tough in any language.

bigsip said...

The pagan holidays were used to draw pagans to Christianity. Those crazy Catholics figured they'd convert some folks that way. Now it's all turned into a commercial party that really has nothing to do with Christ. Funny and sad.