The Meaning of Xmas

The Meaning of Xmas

What do you make of the X of Xmas? There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a Hallmark movie or two and shedding a tear. There’s nothing wrong with singing “Jingle Bells” or wanting hippopotamuses for Christmas.  But we don’t want to miss what Christmas is really about and that is the eternal Son of God coming into the world to save sinners.

Good news of great joy for all people

“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’.” (Luke 2:10–11, NKJV)

It’s the time of year where there are deals galore. All you need to do to get them is enter a special code in the appropriate box and the percentage off will be applied at checkout.

A Christian publishing house offered a site-wide discount using the code XMAS. One customer contacted them taking them to task for using XMAS instead of CHRISTMAS. She claimed they were taking Christ out of Christmas and should know better.

The publisher wrote back and explained that X actually had a long tradition in Christian publishing. Before the invention of the printing press, scribes would copy the Greek New Testament by hand. In so doing, they might abbreviate the name for Christ (Χριστός) with the Greek letter Chi, which looks like the letter X in our English alphabet.

So Xmas is scribal shorthand of sorts for Christmas. The X represents Christ, but that’s only if you are in the know. Xmas could mean different things to different people, depending on your perspective.

Let me suggest four possible perspectives for the X in Xmas, including what each perspective might think of the biblical account of Christ’s birth and a representative seasonal song.

The Atheist Perspective

This point of view (POV) crosses Christ out of Christmas. In fact, it’s not crazy about the word Christmas to begin with. Holiday greetings are more like it.

These are people who are actually doing what that complaining customer was talking about, Xing Christ out of Christmas. It’s kind of a mission statement for them. Religion is enslaving and an opiate to the mindless masses. They are saving people from themselves.

What would this POV think about the biblical account? It’s nothing but a fairy tale, ranking right up there with Frosty and Rudolph. The problem, though, is there are people who actually believe the nativity nonsense.

How about a seasonal song? One candidate is “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” Nothing about Jesus and the season does carry danger to the naive.

The Commercial Perspective

The X in this POV is like the X the salesman puts on the contract to show you where to sign to close the deal on your purchase. Christmas is indeed the most wonderful time of the year because it’s when the bottom line moves most dramatically into the black.

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