Most everyone enjoys facts and trivia, and this is especially true when it comes to beloved traditions such as Christmas.
For example, did you know that on Christmas Day in 1868, President Andrew Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to everyone involved in the Southern rebellion against the United States? Or that the first Nativity scene was assembled by Saint Francis of Assisi in Greccio, Italy on Christmas Day in 1223?
These are fun facts and neat trivia about our beloved holiday of Christmas (or at least I think so).
However, Christmas, for the Christ follower, carries a greater significance because it is a celebration of the birth of Christ, our Lord and Savior. Therefore, it can be important to distinguish the facts from the myths about Christmas.
There are many things about Christmas that are believed to be facts when in fact they are myths. Now, although it carries some importance and can be entertaining to debunk some of the myths about Christmas, it misses the point. Figuring out what isn’t true about the birth of Christ isn’t nearly as important as figuring out what is.
Nevertheless, I’ll be writing about some Christmas balderdash that many have mistaken for fact. So, I hope you have thick skin and a good sense of humor, as you may feel like a sucker for believing superfluous elements of the Christmas story.
The first one I want to tackle is the notion that writing “Merry Xmas” is an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas. Now, on the surface, it’s easy to understand why someone would think removing the letters “CHRIST” and replacing them with an “X” could be an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas. But this is simply not the case.
Unfortunately, there are some secularist Grinches who have sought to obscure “the reason for the season.” However, “Merry Xmas” is not an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas, but rather a way of abbreviating the “Christ” in Christmas.
The Greek word (the language in which our New Testament books were originally written) for Christ is “Cristos.” Notice anything familiar? The first letter is “X,” or “chi.” Chi is written as an X in the Roman alphabet. Rather than being an offensive abbreviation or an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas, “Xmas” is actually a quite logical nickname.
Since the “X” is not “chi” in English, it is easy to understand why we read the word as X-mas and see no connection with Christ. However, let me assure you that if you sign your Christmas cards this year with a warm and sincere “Merry Xmas,” you will in no way be leaving out the reason for this great season – Cristos (Christ) Jesus who came as Emanuel, God with us.
A very Merry Xmas to you and yours.
Chad Eric Donley is the preaching minister for the Ham Lane Church of Christ and the Post Chaplain for the American Legion, Lodi Post 22.