Why do we say Xmas?

rogersgeorge on December 24th, 2011

“Xmas” is an economical way to write “Christmas,” but it’s generally considered poor taste in religious contexts, and is seen more often in secular contexts.

No manger scene here. In fact, it looks like the jolly old elf is holding a cocktail!

Where did the X come from? It’s not actually an X, but the Greek letter chi, the first letter of the word XPIΣTOS, Christ. The chi as an abbreviation for “Christ” goes clear back to ancient Greek copies of the New Testament. So the abbreviation has a long and venerable history.

We do use an x in other contexts, though. “wx” stands for “weather” in meteorological writing, and “xmitter” is an abbreviation for “transmitter” in radio broadcasting circles.

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