MYTH #11: WRITING “XMAS” TAKES CHRIST OUT OF CHRISTMAS
No. No. Wrong again, for true “XMAS” users anyway.
Lots of Christians start feeling like martyrs when Christmas gets abbreviated, believing this is just another way for modern, secular society to disavow our faith. But not exactly. Instead, they’re (consciously or unconsciously) appropriating a usage that’s nearly as old as the faith itself.
In the early days of the Church, during times of persecution as a matter of fact, those first Christians took Jesus’ suggestion to Peter, and created a secret symbol out of it. “I will make you fishers of men.”
Mark 1:17 says,
16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
Half of Jesus’ twelve disciples had been fishermen. As the early church told the world about the resurrected Messiah, it is said they used the symbol of the fish as a communication logo.
The word, “fish” in Greek, “ichthus”, is used at least twenty times in the New Testament. The Greek letters for the word fish make an acronym of the Christian creed: Ἰησοῦς Χρῑστός Θεοῦ Υἱός Σωτήρ. This spells Jesus – Christ – God’s – Son – Savior.
When Christians met with a stranger, it is said they would draw one half of an arch—half of a fish symbol in the sand. If the stranger drew the other half to complete the symbol, then they knew they met with a fellow believer. Thus, for a time they escaped religious persecution.
The first letter in the Greek word for “Christ” is “chi.” And in the Roman alphabet, chi is represented by the symbol “X”. So guess what? Xmas is an entirely justifiable replacement for Christ—mas, and it goes back a long, long way. The “mas” stood for “mass” which meant “feast” or “festival”. The meaning of the word “Christmas” means “Christ Festival”.
So, people who use XMAS aren’t demeaning Christ. We Xians shouldn’t get so upset about it.
So, when someone invites you to attend their school or church’s Christmas program, feel free to point out the errors of their wise men and Victorian-style angels and the maudlin carols in the background. Or, perhaps not, Ebenezer. Don’t be a scrouge. But when it comes to the word “XMAS” feel free to explain the secret meaning used 2000 years ago and even now.
This Christmas, just remember that like many of the tightly held traditions of our faith, not all of them are quite as biblical or unbiblical as we think. Instead let’s celebrate the amazing, symbolic, astonishing message that the Messiah—the Son of God—was born for us. Merry Xmas!