Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve

Well, its about time to drive up to my parents house for Christmas eve dinner and opening of presents.... My two kids are already there.... My brother will be going with me.... and my wife will follow after she gets off work.....

AS I noticed how "Christ" was being taken out of XMAS I started to wonder if the use of Xmas was an attempt to take Christ out as well..... I searched around and found this....

"But the use of the abbreviation Xmas takes Christ out of Christmas!" opponents allege. "Xmas is an irreverent modern substitute for Christmas. The abbreviation represents the substitution of X (which means the unknown quantity) for Christ."
Most Christians today would nod in agreement with those charges. And certainly some who use the abbreviation may employ it for such purposes. Neither is it my intention to whitewash the use of Xmas. But in all fairness and honesty we must recognize that the abbreviation did not originate either to take Christ out of Christmas or as an "irreverent modern substitute for Christmas."
Xmas is not of modern coinage. The Oxford English Dictionary documents the use of this abbreviation back to 1551. Undoubtedly it was employed before that. Now 1551 is fifty years before the first English colonists came to America and sixty years earlier than the completion of the King James Version of the Bible! Moreover, at the same time, Xian and Xianity were in frequent use as abbreviations of Christian and Christianity.
You see, the X in Xmas did not originate as our English alphabet's X but as the symbol X in the Greek alphabet, called Chi, with a hard ch. The Greek Chi or X is the first letter in the Greek word Christos. Eric G. Gration claims that as early as the first century the X was used as Christ's initial. Certainly through church history we can trace this usage. In many manuscripts of the New Testament, X abbreviates Christos (Xristos). In ancient Christian art X and XR (Chi Ro--the first two letters in Greek of Christos abbreviate his name. We find that this practice entered the Old English language as early as AD 100. Moreover, Wycliff and other devout believers used X as an abbreviation for Christ. Were they trying to take Christ away and substitute an unknown quantity? The idea is preposterous.
Some may use Xmas today as an unchristian shortcut for Christmas, but the ancient abbreviation by no means originated as such. The scribes who copied New Testament manuscripts had no intention of taking Christ out of the New Testament. They used the abbreviation simply to save time and space. We use abbreviations for the same purpose today, as witness FDR, HST, JFK, LBJ, and a host of others. Xmas is a legitimate abbreviation. I do not use it because of the possible misunderstanding it often causes as a result of its misrepresentation or abuse. But by no means can the use of the abbreviation be a valid objection to the observance of Christmas itself! Is God against abbreviations?

So now I feel good about using XMAS again, as I am a lazy person..... I am in no way religious..... But I am a tradionalist...... Fight those who wish to take Christ out of Xmas!!!

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