What does the X mean in ‘Xmas’?

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I’ve always wondered where this abbreviation comes from.  So what is the X in Xmas all about?

  1. This is an X holiday

    This one is quite simple, really. Although recently many Christians have decried the growing popularity of the abbreviation Xmas for Christmas, claiming people are “trying to take the Christ out of Christmas,” they really don’t have a leg to stand on.

    The abbreviation comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter in the Greek word Χριστός, which translates as “Christ.”

    So, um, where’s that argument about taking Christ out of Christmas again?

    A brief history

    Uses of the term Xmas can be found as far back as 1753, in a letter from British diplomat George Woodward. Poet Samuel Coleridge used the term in 1801 in a letter, Lord Byron in 1811, Lewis Carroll in 1864, and Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1923 — all referenced here.

    Though the term has an ancient and respected past, as familiarity with language and history fades, it’s primarily recognized these days through its use in advertisements during the holiday season. This, no doubt, has done much to degrade and cheapen the term, thus leading those ignorant to its history and actual derivation to decry it as a simple abbreviation or an attempt to secularize the Christmas holiday.

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