Merry ******mas?

Over at the House of Carr homepage, I added a tab for our eventual Christmas stuff. To save space, I merely labeled it "Xmas." A good friend wondered if this was akin to selling out,"taking the "Christ" out of "Christmas." Good question. Let me explain it here.

First, in order for me to ruin everyone's holiday, we need to understand that it was very unlikely that Jesus was actually born on or near December 25th. The date was picked a few centuries after Jesus lived, in order to replace the popularly celebrated winter solstice, a pagan holiday. The most common deity worshiped on this date was Mithra; in Israel, we were able to observe a Mithra shrine in the sea port of Caesarea [for more on Mithra & Christmas, see here].

The word "Christmas" is literally a contraction of "Christ's Mass." The Greek word for Christ is "Χριστός" [Christos]. Notice the first letter is an X, the Greek letter Chi [pronounced "Key"]. For over 1,000 years the word "Christ" has been abbreviated with an "X" or "Xp" throughout various Anglo-Saxon and Eastern Orthodox writings. So using "Xmas" still emphasizes the presence of Christ in the holiday.*

Somehow, as retailers began to use Xmas as an abbreviation for the holiday [which has been done for almost 100 years now in America], some believers felt it was an attack on Jesus, not recognizing him being the center of the holiday. I'm not quite sure where this rumor started. I suspect that it comes down to advertisers trying to save a buck. Whenever you can shorten an ad to conserve space/ink, you usually do it.

Regardless of how you spell it, it's impossible to deny that the the holiday that we celebrate as Christmas today has its origins in the Christian faith.

*I should admit that I really don't take issue with calling this "the holiday season" because the word "holiday" is derived from "Holy Day," again showing the religious nature of the celebration.