Putting the X into Christmas

Pastoral Messages | December 12, 2019

Several years ago, someone asked me why I abbreviate Christmas as Xmas. Surprise prompted the question – surprise that someone who speaks as often as I do of trying to live a life in Christ would jettison His name from the very festival honoring His birth. We had a pleasant conversation. She had been influenced by the culture warriors who insist every December that the church (and preachers within it) retrieve Christ from the excesses of consumerism and get Him back into Christmas.

I’ve never personally felt the need to get Christ back into Christmas, mostly because I didn’t know he ever left it. But I have wondered when Christians who are in love with the secular trappings of Christmas will get their lives back in flow with Christ. That seems the bigger deal to me this season, even if buying a kitchen blender on sale is a thrill, and having free gift-wrapping thrown in just gives one the shivers.

As for my use of Xmas, there are two things to know: First, I scribble fast when I write. So, I make a habit of looking for every abbreviation I can find. I type even faster, which makes overly long words something I resent, if I can be perfectly honest. But second, and something I shared with the woman who asked me about Xmas, is a secret you should know. “X” is the Greek letter Chi. It’s also the first letter in the word Christ. Many historians believe that early Christians who needed to be discrete about their beliefs used an X for shorthand. They were, as you might think of yourself as well, not just Christian; they were Xn.

I watch with amusement the way society goes crazy over Christmas. There are no words to describe some of it – pagan doesn’t come close. But as you’re having fun and enjoying every sort of excitement this season, try to sneak a little X into your festivities. You won’t regret it.

-Peter W. Marty, senior pastor

6 Comments on “Putting the X into Christmas”

  • David Chamberlin

    December 17, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    It used to bother me a lot too, but then I realized that X reminds me of a cross, and we all know what a cross reminds us of. The birth of X would mean nothing if X had not given His life for us on the X. 😉

  • Heidi Herman

    December 15, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    I had always wondered where that abbreviation came from and now the mystery is solved! I hope you and Susan have a wonderful, Christ filled, Xmas!


    December 13, 2019 at 11:24 am

    Marion and I always love reading your posts. As I read this post, I recall, when I was a teen ( a long time ago), I was somewhat incensed about the word Xmas. At the time I thought it was an affront to what Christmas was all about. When I got more involved in church, it was explained to me what this meant and how it was used by early Christians to protect themselves from persecution. Later on, when I was taking religion courses at Augie, I found out about additional trials and tribulations that early Christians had to endure so that they could practice their faith. We can be thankful that we can celebrate Christmas without having to worry about those kinds of things today. What we need to remember is that Christmas doesn’t just come once a year. Our Lord made sure we can enjoy “Christmas” every day of the year through our faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • Suzy Schindler

    December 13, 2019 at 9:43 am

    You’ve relieved my annual angst with this contracted word for Christmas. Thank you…

  • Lorie Ockelmann

    December 12, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    I remember when you gave us this information a few years ago. It made me feel better about using Xmas once in awhile. Thank you for reminding me of where I had gotten this information.

  • Kathleen Hurty

    December 12, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    What a delightful and most helpful mind-shift on the word Xmas. Thank you for sharing this insight!

Leave a Comment