The recent terrorist attacks on Paris were tragic and I want to express my support for the people in Paris and those affected by the attacks. During the holidays and in this time of mourning, people typically come together with friends and family to express love and gratitude toward each other. Unfortunately, I have come across some comments on social media and in the news that are contradictory to the uplifting holiday spirit. A few people are commenting about how they feel that certain religions are responsible for terrorism. There have been a lot of misconceptions about religion throughout the centuries, but I’d like to talk about one misconception in particular that people today often still conceive to be true, which is that the phrasing of “Xmas” is an offensive term that takes the “Christ” out of “Christmas”.
Last holiday season, my daughter studied abroad in Rome. The focus of her study was Roman Catholicism from Christ’s birth to the 1800s. She came back with a bucket load of interesting information, but one particular thing really stood out to me; the idea that X-mas is not an offensive term, but actually the only way many Christians at the time knew how to identify that they were Christian. You see, back in the early centuries when Christianity was first spreading to Rome and beyond, many Christians were illiterate. In declaration and pride in their religion, early Christians would show their pride through writing an “X” on their door or next to their name. This “X” came from the Ancient Greek alphabet meaning “chi”. The “X” was the first character used in a Greek word translating to “Christ”. So, being unable to spell, this is how Christ followers at the time would express their faith.
When Christmas became a celebrated tradition, many Christians were still not as literate as most world citizens are today and expressed Christmas as “Xmas”. So as you can see the “X” is not used to take the “Christ” out of “Christmas”, but rather tie the holiday back to its origin, those first centuries after Jesus walked the earth. I am by no means saying we adopt this adaptation of the word “Christmas”, but just hope to give you a little more knowledge and help you feel more centered about this common misconception.
Overall, I know religion is a touchy subject, but my advice is to find your center in all the chatter; keep an open mind and an open heart around comments posted on Facebook, through the grapevine, or in the news. Until next time, Merry Xmas Gurus!