The Info List - Xmas

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is a common abbreviation of the word Christmas. It is sometimes pronounced /ˈɛksməs/, but Xmas, and variants such as Xtemass, originated as handwriting abbreviations for the typical pronunciation /ˈkrɪsməs/. The "X" comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, which in English is "Christ".[1] The "-mas" part is from the Latin-derived Old English word for Mass.[2] There is a common misconception that the word Xmas
stems from a secular attempt to remove the religious tradition from Christmas[3] by taking the "Christ" out of "Christmas", but its use dates back to the 16th century.


1 Style guides and etiquette 2 History

2.1 Use in English 2.2 Use of "X" for "Christ"

2.2.1 Other uses of "X(t)" for "Chris(t)-"

3 In popular culture 4 See also 5 Notes 6 References 7 External links

Style guides and etiquette[edit] "Xmas" is deprecated by some modern style guides, including those at the New York Times,[4] The Times, The Guardian, and the BBC.[5] Millicent Fenwick, in the 1948 Vogue's Book of Etiquette, states that "'Xmas' should never be used" in greeting cards.[6] The Cambridge Guide to Australian English Usage states that the spelling should be considered informal and restricted to contexts where concision is valued, such as headlines and greeting cards.[7] The Christian Writer's Manual of Style, while acknowledging the ancient and respectful use of "Xmas" in the past, states that the spelling should never be used in formal writing.[8] History[edit] Use in English[edit]

"Xmas" used on a Christmas
postcard, 1910

Early use of "Xmas" includes Bernard Ward's History of St. Edmund's college, Old Hall (originally published circa 1755).[9] An earlier version, "X'temmas", dates to 1551.[9] Around 1100 the term was written as "Xp̄es mæsse" in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.[1] "Xmas" is found in a letter from George Woodward in 1753.[10] Lord Byron
Lord Byron
used the term in 1811,[11] as did Samuel Coleridge
Samuel Coleridge
(1801)[5] and Lewis Carroll (1864).[11] In the United States, the fifth American edition of William Perry's Royal Standard English Dictionary, published in Boston in 1800, included in its list of "Explanations of Common Abbreviations, or Contraction of Words" the entry: "Xmas. Christmas."[12] Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
used the term in a letter dated 1923.[11] Since at least the late 19th century, "Xmas" has been in use in various other English-language nations. Quotations with the word can be found in texts first written in Canada,[13] and the word has been used in Australia,[7] and in the Caribbean.[14] Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage stated that modern use of the term is largely limited to advertisements, headlines and banners, where its conciseness is valued. The association with commerce "has done nothing for its reputation", according to the dictionary.[11] In the United Kingdom, the former Church of England
Church of England
Bishop of Blackburn, Alan Chesters, recommended to his clergy that they avoid the spelling.[5] In the United States, in 1977 New Hampshire Governor Meldrim Thomson
Meldrim Thomson
sent out a press release saying that he wanted journalists to keep the "Christ" in Christmas, and not call it Xmas—which he called a "pagan" spelling of Christmas.[15] Use of "X" for "Christ"[edit] For the article about the χρ symbol, see Chi Rho.

The labarum, often called the Chi-Rho, is a Christian
symbol representing Christ.

The abbreviation of Christmas
as "Xmas" is the source of disagreement among Christians who observe the holiday. The December 1957 News and Views published by the Church League of America, a conservative organization co-founded in 1937 by George Washington Robnett,[16] attacked the use of Xmas
in an article titled "X=The Unknown Quantity". The claims were picked up later by Gerald L. K. Smith, who in December 1966 claimed that Xmas
was a "blasphemous omission of the name of Christ" and that "'X' is referred to as being symbolical of the unknown quantity." Smith further argued that Jews introduced Santa Claus
Santa Claus
to suppress the New Testament
New Testament
accounts of Jesus, and that the United Nations, at the behest of "world Jewry", had "outlawed the name of Christ".[17] There is, however, a well documented history of use of Χ (actually a chi) as an abbreviation for "Christ" (Χριστός) and possibly also a symbol of the cross.[18][19] The abbreviation appears on many Orthodox Christian religious icons. Dennis Bratcher, writing for a website for Christians, states "there are always those who loudly decry the use of the abbreviation 'Xmas' as some kind of blasphemy against Christ
and Christianity".[20] Among them are evangelist Franklin Graham
Franklin Graham
and CNN
journalist Roland S. Martin. Graham stated in an interview:

"for us as Christians, this is one of the most holy of the holidays, the birth of our savior Jesus
Christ. And for people to take Christ out of Christmas. They're happy to say merry Xmas. Let's just take Jesus
out. And really, I think, a war against the name of Jesus Christ."[21]

Roland Martin likewise relates the use of "Xmas" to his growing concerns of increasing commercialization and secularization of one of Christianity's highest holy days.[22] Bratcher posits that those who dislike abbreviating the word are unfamiliar with a long history of Christians using X in place of "Christ" for various purposes. The word "Christ" and its compounds, including "Christmas", have been abbreviated in English for at least the past 1,000 years, long before the modern "Xmas" was commonly used. "Christ" was often written as "Xρ" or "Xt"; there are references in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
as far back as 1021. This X and P arose as the uppercase forms of the Greek letters χ (Ch) and ρ (R) used in ancient abbreviations for Χριστος (Greek for "Christ").[1] The labarum, an amalgamation of the two Greek letters rendered as ☧,[note 1] is a symbol often used to represent Christ
in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian
Churches.[23] The Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
(OED) and the OED Supplement have cited usages of "X-" or "Xp-" for "Christ-" as early as 1485. The terms "Xtian" and less commonly "Xpian" have also been used for "Christian". The OED further cites usage of "Xtianity" for "Christianity" from 1634.[1] According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, most of the evidence for these words comes from "educated Englishmen who knew their Greek".[11] In ancient Christian
art, χ and χρ are abbreviations for Christ's name.[24] In many manuscripts of the New Testament
New Testament
and icons, Χ is an abbreviation for Χριστος,[25] as is XC (the first and last letters in Greek, using the lunate sigma);[26] compare IC for Jesus
in Greek. Other uses of "X(t)" for "Chris(t)-"[edit] Other proper names containing the name "Christ" besides those mentioned above are sometimes abbreviated similarly, either as "X" or "Xt", both of which have been used historically,[27] e.g., "Xtopher" or "Xopher" for "Christopher", or "Xtina" or "Xina" for the name "Christina". In the 17th and 18th centuries, "Xene" and "Exene" were common spellings for the given name Christine. The American singer Christina Aguilera has sometimes gone by the name "Xtina". Similarly, Exene Cervenka has been a noted American singer-songwriter since 1977. This usage of "X" to spell the syllable "kris" (rather than the sounds "ks") has extended to "xtal" for "crystal", and on florists' signs to "xant" for "chrysanthemum",[28] even though these words are not etymologically related to "Christ": "crystal" comes from a Greek word meaning "ice" (and not even using the letter χ), and "chrysanthemum" comes from Greek words meaning "golden flower", while "Christ" comes from a Greek word meaning "anointed". In popular culture[edit] In the animated television series Futurama, which is set in the 31st century, Xmas
/ˈɛksməs/ is the official name for the day formerly known as Christmas
(which, in the episode " Xmas
Story", is said to have become an "archaic pronunciation"). In the American version of the board game Monopoly, players can draw a card from the Community Chest which reads: " Xmas
fund matures. Collect $100". See also[edit]

Christogram Christmas
controversy Names and titles of Jesus Robert Christgau, Christo
(Bulgarian: Христо), Exene Cervenka and Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera
for other uses of an X prefix abbreviation.


^ Unicode
character Chi Rho
Chi Rho


^ a b c d "X n. 10.". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2011.  ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Liturgy of the Mass. Retrieved 20 December 2007. ^ O'Conner, Patricia T.; Kellerman, Stewart (2009). Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language. New York: Random House. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-4000-6660-5.  ^ Siegel, Allan M. and William G. Connolly, The New York Times
New York Times
Manual of Style and Usage, Three Rivers Press, 1999, ISBN 978-0-8129-6389-2, pp 66, 365, retrieved via Google Books, December 27, 2008 ^ a b c Griffiths, Emma, "Why get cross about Xmas?", BBC
website, December 22, 2004. Retrieved December 28, 2008. ^ Fenwick, Millicent, Vogue's Book of Etiquette: A Complete Guide to Traditional Forms and Modern Usage, Simon and Schuster, 1948, p 611, retrieved via Google Books, December 27, 2008; full quote seen on Google Books search page ^ a b Peters, Pam, "Xmas" article, The Cambridge Guide to Australian English Usage, Cambridge University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-521-87821-0, p 872, retrieved via Google Books, December 27, 2008 ^ Hudson, Robert, "Xmas" article, The Christian
Writer's Manual of Style: Updated and Expanded Edition, Zondervan, 2004, ISBN 978-0-310-48771-5 p 412, retrieved via Google Books, December 27, 2008 ^ a b "Xmas, n.". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2011.  ^ Mullan, John and Christopher Reid, Eighteenth-century Popular Culture: A Selection, Oxford University Press, 2000, ISBN 978-0-19-871134-6, p 216, retrieved via Google Books, December 27, 2008 ^ a b c d e "Xmas" article, Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, Merriam-Webster, 1994, p 968, ISBN 978-0-87779-132-4, retrieved via Google Books, December 27, 2008 ^ Perry, William (1800). The Royal Standard English Dictionary. Boston: Isaiah Thomas & Ebenezer T. Andrews. p. 56.  ^ Kelcey, Barbara Eileen, Alone in Silence: European Women in the Canadian North Before 1940, McGill-Queen's Press, 2001, ISBN 978-0-7735-2292-3 ("We had singing practice with the white men for the Xmas
carols", written by Sadie Stringer in Peel River, Northwest Territories, Canada), p 50, retrieved via Google Books, December 27, 2008 ^ Alssopp, Richard, "most1" articleDictionary of Caribbean English Usage, University of the West Indies Press, 2003, ISBN 978-976-640-145-0 ("The most day I enjoy was Xmas day" — Bdos, 1985), p 388, retrieved via Google Books, December 27, 2008 ^ "X-mas is 'X'ing out Christ'", The Montreal Gazette, December 8, 1977, accessed February 10, 2010 ^ "Subject Guide to Conservative and Libertarian Materials, in Manuscript Collections". University of Oregon.  ^ Kominsky, Morris (1970). The Hoaxers: Plain Liars, Fancy Liars and Damned Liars. pp. 137–138. ISBN 0-8283-1288-5. [full citation needed] ^ " Christian
Symbols and Their Descriptions". Ancient-symbols.com. Retrieved 8 December 2008. [unreliable source?] ^ "Why Is There a Controversy Surrounding the Word 'Xmas'?". tlc.howstuffworks.com. Retrieved 25 December 2012. [unreliable source?] ^ "The Origin of "Xmas"". CRI/Voice. 2007-12-03. Retrieved 2009-08-16.  ^ American Morning: A Conversation With Reverend Franklin Graham, CNN (December 16, 2005). Retrieved on December 29, 2009. ^ Martin, Roland (December 20, 2007). Commentary: You can't take Christ
out of Christmas, CNN. Retrieved on December 29, 2009. ^ Christian
Symbols: Chi- Rho
Symbols, Doug Gray, Retrieved 2009-12-07 ^ "Monogram of Christ". New Advent. 1911-10-01. Retrieved 2009-08-16.  ^ Rev. Steve Fritz (December 22, 2012). "The 'X' Factor". Lancaster Online. Retrieved December 25, 2012.  ^ Church Symbolism: An Explanation of the more Important Symbols of the Old and New Testament, the Primitive, the Mediaeval and the Modern Church by Frederick Roth Webber (2nd. edition, 1938). OCLC 236708 ^ http://www.all-acronyms.com/XT./Christ/1136835 "Abbreviation: Xt." Date retrieved: 19 Dec. 2010. ^ "X". Everything 2. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Xmas.

Look up Xmas
in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

An icon of Christ
featuring the abbreviations IC and XC in the upper corners "Why get cross about Xmas?" (BBC, December 22, 2004)

v t e


Eve Children's Day Boxing Day Nochebuena Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas
Day St. Stephen's Day Sol Invictus Yule

In Christianity

Biblical Magi

Adoration of the Magi

Adoration of the Shepherds Advent Angel Gabriel Annunciation Annunciation
to the shepherds Baptism of the Lord Bethlehem Christingle Christmastide Epiphany Herod the Great Jesus Joseph Mary Massacre of the Innocents

flight into Egypt

Nativity Fast Nativity of Jesus

in art in later culture

Nativity scene Saint Nicholas Star of Bethlehem Twelfth Night

In folklore

Badalisc La Befana Belsnickel Caganer Christkind Ded Moroz Elves Father Christmas Grýla Jack Frost Joulupukki Knecht Ruprecht Korvatunturi Krampus Mikulás Miner's figure Mrs. Claus Nisse/Tomte North Pole Old Man Winter Olentzero Père Fouettard Père Noël Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Saint Lucy Santa's reindeer Santa's workshop Sinterklaas Tió de Nadal Vertep Yule
Cat Yule
Lads Zwarte Piet


Saint Nicholas Santa Claus List of Christmas
gift-bringers by country


calendar Advent
candle Advent
wreath Boar's Head Feast Candle arches Cards Carols by Candlelight Cavalcade of Magi Crackers Decorations Events and celebrations Feast of the Seven Fishes Flying Santa Google Santa Tracker Hampers Las Posadas Letters Lights Lord of Misrule Markets Meals and feasts Moravian star Nine Lessons and Carols NORAD Tracks Santa Nutcrackers


Ornaments Parades


Piñatas Pyramids Räuchermann Seals Secret Santa Spanbaum Stamps Stockings Tree Twelve Days Wassailing Windows Yule
Goat Yule

By country

Australia and New Zealand Denmark Germany Hawaii Hungary Iceland Indonesia Ireland Mexico Norway Philippines Poland Romania Russia Scotland Serbia Sweden Ukraine




Hit singles UK Hit singles US Music books

Carols for Choirs The Oxford Book of Carols The New Oxford Book of Carols Piae Cantiones

Other media

Films Poetry

"Old Santeclaus with Much Delight" "A Visit from St. Nicholas"


specials Yule

In modern society

Conspiracy Black Friday (partying) Black Friday (shopping) Bronner's Christmas
Wonderland Christmas
club Christmas
creep Christmas
Day (Trading) Act 2004 Christmas
Lectures Christmas
Mountains Christmas
truce Controversies Cyber Monday Economics Giving Tuesday El Gordo Holiday season In July In August Leon Day NBA games NFL games Puritan New England American Civil War Post-War United States Running of the Santas SantaCon Santa's Candy Castle Small Business Saturday Super Saturday Virginia O'Hanlon White Christmas Winter festivals WWE Tribute to the Troops Xmas

Food and drink


Joulupöytä Julebord Kūčios Réveillon Twelve-dish supper Smörgåsbord Wigilia


bûche de Noël Cake Candy cane Cookies Fruitcake Gingerbread Kourabiedes Melomakarono Mince pie Pavlova Pecan pie Pumpkin pie Pudding Rosca de reyes Szaloncukor Turrón




Cranberry sauce


Apple cider Champurrado Eggnog Mulled wine

Smoking Bishop

Ponche crema


Hallaca Tamale


Ham Roast goose Romeritos Turkey Stuffing