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You Don't Say John E. McIntyre writes about language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects.

Keep the 'X' in 'Xmas'

The Baltimore Sun

It is a little tiresome to have to repeat explanation year after year, but I know people on Facebook who persist in posting crackpot memes like this: “It's Christmas...not X-mas!!! Don't remove Christ from HIS birthday!!! Post this if you agree...Please don't X out the Lord!!!!!”

Here we go again. The X in Xmas is not the x in algebra for an unknown quantity. It is the Greek letter chi, which shares a shape with the Latin letter x. Chi is the first letter in Christos — Christ. Xmas is an abbreviation of Christmas, not a subtraction of Christ from Christmas.

(Merriam-Webster traces the first use of "Xmas" for "Christmas" to Anno Domini 1551.) 

To see a parallel, imagine someone objecting to St. John because John was a saint, not a street.

I would like to see everyone have a pleasant holiday season, my fellow Christians among all those who have occasions to celebrate this time of year. I think that everyone would have that more pleasant holiday season if fewer people were determined on inventing reasons for offense where no offense is intended.

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