When I was a kid, it seemed much more common to see “Merry X-mas” used in place of “Merry Christmas” than it is today. I would see “Merry X-mas” spelled out in big letters on someone’s front lawn, or used in a card or a letter as friends celebrated the season. I never liked it, neither did most Christians that I knew, and the older folks decried its use with more verbiage than we, but our feelings were the same. And early this morning, for some reason “Merry X-mas” flew into my mind, and I decided to trash the concept in this blog.
In today’s lingo, we would say that they were literally “X-ing out Christ.” Call it the ultimate example of “X-ing out Christ.” We could call it the definitive illustration of Cancel Culture. It’s ironic to say that, as cancel culture (or call-out culture) is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles - either online on social media, in the real world, or both. Those who are subject to this ostracism are said to be "canceled." Jesus Christ was God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16) and He came to call out a people unto His name, and now that very name was being “called out,” “canceled” and eliminated from His own season! No Christ in Christmas? How crazy is that!
Of course there are multitudes of people who have canceled Christ out of Christmas regardless of how it is spelled, and that’s another tragic story of itself. But imagine my surprise when I did the smallest bit of research on “Merry X-mas.” Here is what I found: The Greek spelling of Christ is Xristos, or Christos. The Greek letter “X” or Chi is the first letter of Christ’s name and was a common abbreviation for “Christ” in early biblical writings. Dennis Bratcher from the Christian Resource Institute writes, “In religious publications the church began to use the abbreviation "X" for the word ‘Christ’ to cut down on the cost of books and pamphlets… ‘Xmas’ became an accepted way of printing Christmas along with abbreviations 'Xian' and 'Xianity'.” How about that!
That’s my somewhat shocking research on “Merry X-mas” as it relates to the language that the New Testament was written in. I don’t know how many people knew of those Greek foundations when they used “Merry X-mas” but there existed some justification, I suppose. But with all due respect to the great history of the Greek culture, I still don’t like it! After all, Christ has a whole bunch of names, and we can cite this fantastic Christmas verse (Isaiah 9:6) that gives us five of them “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, the mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” And let’s not forget Matthew 1:16 “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” I’d rather any of those then X!
Love to all,