Wanna Keep Christ in Christmas? Wish People a Merry Xmas!

It’s common today to hear Christians lament the fact that Jesus is too often overlooked or even left out in our modern secular celebration of the holiday. One example that people sometimes mistakenly point to is the use of the term Xmas which some see as a way of leaving Christ out of Christmas when actually, the complete opposite is occurring here. The X actually represents the name of Christ! In Greek, the first two letters of the word Christ are chi (c or C) and rho (r or R). No doubt you recognize the following symbol as a symbol of Christ:

This symbol, the Chi Rho (pronounced KEE-ROE), is made by combining the first two letters of Christ’s name in Greek. In the same way, the X used in the abbreviation Xmas is actually the Greek letter chi (c or C). Here is some fascinating background on the development of the abbreviation Xmas.

So, perhaps we should encourage those we teach to use the abbreviation Xmas when sending their Xmas cards and greetings and to have them add a little P.S. about the X actually being a Greek chi representing the name Christ!

About Joe Paprocki 2374 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

2 Comments on Wanna Keep Christ in Christmas? Wish People a Merry Xmas!

  1. So glad to see this description! I had a conversation very similar to this explanation last year with a teacher at our local school. She was quite upset that a parent had sent her a Christmas card with the phrase “Merry Xmas!” We had a wonderful discussion about the fact that Christ is ALWAYS there, that the early Christians knew exactly what it meant, in our modern time some people just forget what they were looking at! Love your blog!

  2. Charlotte, writes,

    Yesterday on Fox News as five, they were lamenting the use of Merry Xmas. Your e-mail educated me so I passed the information on the them. I told them it was an exerpt from Catechist Journey. I hope I did the right thing. Sincerely,
    Charlotte McHoul

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