Thursday, December 23, 2010

Why I Don't Go Ballistic Over Xmas

When I refer to the religious festival, secular holiday, or commercial bonanza that happens this time of year, I write "Christmas." Not "Xmas." That's because I'm fairly fast at key-entry, like the 'sound' of "Christmas," and don't want to upset folks who feel bad when they see "Xmas."

Counting the title, I've written "Xmas" three times so far in this post. Four with that last sentence.

Not because I'm trying to make anybody feel bad, but because I've seen discussions of "Xmas" in various places. Some apparently more informed than others.

I've run into a few explanations for why some folks write "Xmas" when they mean "Christmas:"
  • People are lazy
  • It's an attack on Christianity
  • The X in Christmas is
    • St. Andrew's Cross
    • The Greek Letter Chi, expressed in our Latin-derived alphabet
I don't doubt that some folks, when they write "Xmas," intend to 'attack' Christianity. Or at least are trying to annoy tightly-wound Christians. Some folks may write "Xmas" in an effort to avoid writer's cramp. The version I heard first, and give some credence to, is that the "X" is a reference to St. Andrew's cross. Which, by tradition, was shaped more-or-less like an "X." (More about that in the background articles, at the end of this post.)

I won't insist on that explanation, since I haven't verified it. The 'X means Chi' explanation makes sense to me, too: but again, I haven't thoroughly researched the matter.

Again, I prefer to write out "Christmas." But, like I said in this post's title, I don't go ballistic when I see "Xmas." There are many possible explanations for why a particular person might use that abbreviation. And besides, if I must get upset: I'd rather pick a less ambiguous target.

Which reminded me (ADHD, remember?):

We Worship the Post Exchange?!

The chi-rho symbolConsidering how many Christian churches have a labarum, or chi-rho symbol, prominently displayed in the sanctuary, I'm a little surprised that I haven't run into someone claiming that 'those people' worship a Post Exchange, sometimes referred to as the PX. (See AAFES/Post Exchange (Mini-Mall): "The Post Exchange (PX) is a modern self-service shoppette....")

Colorful as the idea of people worshiping a PX is, the Chi-Roh symbol predates the American military, the Norman Invasion, the fall of the Roman Empire, and the conversion of Emperor Constantine.

The labarum, or chi-rho, been a Christian symbol for a long time, and represents the first two letters of my Lord's title, Christ, as expressed in the Greek language (Catholic Encyclopedia) - and subsequently picked up by barbarians who were using variations on the Latin alphabet. A lot can happen in two millennia. And has. And that's another topic.

Almost-related posts:


Tony said...


I'm telling Gretchen Carlson on you!

Brigid said...

I think a word might be missing: "don't want to upset who feel bad"

Wrong word: "when they right 'Xmas,' intend"

Another missing word: "The labarum, or chi-rho, been a Christian"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian H. Gill said...


Thanks: and fixed!

Brian H. Gill said...



Thanks for your comment: and keeping a light tone.

I had to look up the Gretchen Carlson reference: apparently she's been getting ridiculed for the way she's been discussing America's dominant culture and the 'winter solstice' celebration. The one that involves Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and Santa Claus. Starts with the letter "C."

From the timid "happy holiday" sign over Main Street, downtown here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, to the occasionally outright hostility toward 'religious' observances ("The University of Minnesota and the Never-Ending Battle for Tolerance, Sensitivity, and the Academic Way" (December 22, 2007), "Common Sense in School! Ramadan Joins Halloween, Christmas" (October 3, 2007), in another blog), I suspect G. C. may have a point.

I may discuss goofy outbreaks of 'tolerance' myself: although examples of full-bore political correctness are becoming more uncommon. Happily, in my view.

That said, I think that using "Xmas" as an alternate spelling for Christmas is tenuously associated with secularism: at best. Like I said, "if I must get upset: I'd rather pick a less ambiguous target."

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More


Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.