ABC Wednesday 5: X is for...

... Xmas

In the run up to Christmas last week I'd been pondering where the abbreviation Xmas came from and today's ABC Wednesday is the perfect excuse to find out a little more. According to the entry about Christmas in Wikipedia:

The word Christmas originated as a compound meaning "Christ's Mass". It is derived from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes mæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038. "Cristes" is from Greek Christos and "mæsse" is from Latin missa (the holy mass). In Greek, the letter Χ (chi), is the first letter of Christ, and it, or the similar Roman letter X, has been used as an abbreviation for Christ since the mid-16th century. Hence, Xmas is sometimes used as an abbreviation for Christmas.

My parents and school always suggested using the word Xmas was rather vulgar and such was this air of disapproval dinned into me from an early age, even today I find it rather a difficult word to use!

The picture's a scene from our family Christmas walk in Batley Park on Boxing Day, where we had great fun in the snow, though the poor ducks and geese on the lake were finding it a little difficult to land ;)


  1. I was just the same - always told that 'Xmas' was rather common and lazy usage. Even at the cathedral school I was sent to, the term was forbidden - we were taught its origin, but still forbidden to use it.

    Xmas is preferable to 'Crimbo' anyway, I suggest!

    Our vicar, where we lived previously, insisted on retaining the the third 's' in the word (Christmass) - a reminder that it was Christ's Mass.

  2. Merry Xmas to you, VP! From the Department of Expediancy and Abbreviation. ;-)

  3. I, too, was brought up believing that "Xmas," be its usage never so hallowed by time, was a vulgar substitute for "Christmas." The only place I use it is in my checkbook (that's "cheque" to you), since there's not enough room to write out the real word!

  4. I had gotten the same message re: Xmas; but I think it's legit, as I noted LAST December, HERE.

  5. As always, an interesting post here! Happy New Year!

  6. I have found it difficult to use too. Its a very interesting explaination for the use of X.

  7. Ha, ha, VP--we had the same idea this round! Hope you are enjoying your holiday!

    Best wishes for a Happy new Year!

  8. I wish you a Happy New Year VP!
    XXX/ Tyra

  9. Same here so have never used the word. However both your post and Roses might persuade me otherwise :)

  10. Hi VP, Happy new year! I have an unrelated question. Well, first a confession: I love mushy peas. I want to grow the type of peas needed to make mushy peas and did a little Googlin'. The answer seems to be marrowfat peas. Still (here comes the question), I'm not sure if "marrowfat" is a variety or whether the term refers to any kind of pea left on the stalk long enough to dry. Any insight is greatly appreciated!

  11. I find it quite an offensive term (though as Nigel says, Crimbo is probably worse), for the reason Rose gives on her post, ie it's taking "Christ" out of "Christmas" - I know its origin is Christian, but I suspect most people who use it don't. I'd rather people wished me a happy winter solstice or even a cool yule, if that reflects their own beliefs, rather than mucking about with mine.

    Because of its modern useage (emblazoned all over the shops from the end of September) I also think of the word Xmas as representing all that's bad about Christmas - all the commercialism, over-spending, over-eating, wasting food, and fighting with people you don't see all year and would rather not see at all - Christmas, on the other hand, to me is about celebrating, thoughtful giving, enjoying special treats, and being with, or staying in touch with, people you actually love.

    It's quite an important issue for me, and I was intending to post about it myself in the run-up to Christmas, but I ran out of time ... maybe next year. Or maybe it would be better if I left it alone - too much potential for me to get really upset if people disagree with me!

    Anyway, sorry to rant on your blog - all good wishes to you for a happy new year, VP!

  12. Happy New Year! I've never liked the word Xmas either. Flighty xx

  13. Hi, I find the X a bit hard to find...but than I just remember my Christmas-tree (X-mas-tree) or as we say in Sweden Julgran.
    Have a Nice and Happy New Year 2010

  14. I'm surprised at how many of us were brought up thinking this was not the proper way to do things!

    OK to rant away Juliet - if I get a card with Xmas written in it I always feel that it was one written in haste rather than with care.

    Susan - tee hee! Hope your mother's well on the road to recovery.


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