So this *IS* Xmas
There’s plenty of people who get annoyed when Christmas is written as Xmas, “it’s taking Christ out of Christmas,” they say. To be fair, we Christians did nick the holiday from the pagans, so if a secular society wants to nick it for Jolly old St Nick, I’m not sure we’ve got any high ground to stand on. In any case, stopping the secularisation of a holiday by complaining is certainly not a good strategy. If someone wants to have a secular Christmas, good on them – I can only present Christ, I cannot force them to accept him.
Having said that, R.C. Sproul (author of the Holiness of God, of which I’m way behind in blogging about) points out that ‘Xmas’ has a long, and indeed, very Christian heritage:
The simple answer to your question is that the X in Christmas is used like the R in R.C. My given name at birth was Robert Charles, although before I was even taken home from the hospital my parents called me by my initials, R.C., and nobody seems to be too scandalized by that.
The X, he points out, comes from the Greek:
We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.
He argues that it means no disrespect:
The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus.
… There’s a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.