We have had some of our readers voice concern over the use of Xmas in the heading of one of our photos in the December 5 issue of the New Albany Gazette. I want to assure you that there was no attempt to dishonor or disrespect either Christ or the meaning of Christmas. We do appreciate the people of our community caring so deeply about making sure that we do properly honor Jesus Christ during this special time of year in which we celebrate His coming to earth as part of God’s redemptive plan for mankind.
We did use the spelling of Christmas in the caption that was below the photograph as well as on other pages where the word Christmas is mentioned. The shorter version was used on page one due space purposes. Again, we had no intent to offend anyone or disrespect Jesus Christ.
We want to assure our community and our readers that there was never any thought or intent to minimize or take the name of Christ out for any reason.
I want to share a short article below by the noted Christian theologian R.C. Sproul regarding where the terminology for Xmas actually came from. I found it highly informative and it corrected some misconceptions that I personally had previously.
I wish you all a Christ-centered Christmas and trust that this will answer some questions that have arisen from the usage of term.
New Albany Gazette
What Does the X in Xmas Mean?
R.C. Sproul Dec 11, 2017
The X in Christmas is used like the R in R.C. My given name at birth was Robert Charles, although before I was even taken home from the hospital my parents called me by my initials, R.C., and nobody seems to be too scandalized by that.
X can mean so many things. For example, when we want to denote an unknown quantity, we use the symbol X. It can refer to an obscene level of films, something that is X-rated. People seem to express chagrin about seeing Christ’s name dropped and replaced by this symbol for an unknown quantity X. Every year you see the signs and bumper stickers saying, “Put Christ back into Christmas” as a response to this substitution of the letter X for the name of Christ.
There’s no X in Christmas
First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be the shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.
We don’t see people protesting the use of the Greek letter theta, which is an O with a line across the middle. We use that as a shorthand abbreviation for God because it is the first letter of the word Theos, the Greek word for God.
X has a long and sacred history
The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus. The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters of the Greek phrases “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put those letter together to spell the Greek word for fish. That’s how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom. There’s a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.