Why do people use X instead of Christ in Christmas? Some Christians state that it is cutting Christ out of the holiday while others state X is just the first letter in Christs name in Greek. The former accuses the latter of sneaking paganism into the holiday while the latter accuses the former of historical snobbery and legalism. As Yoda once said, “begun, the Xmas Wars have” (okay, not really but close enough) and the first shot was fired by some friends of mine today on Facebook with the following picture:
It’s an effective hit piece and one can just feel the subtle sarcasm oozing from that cute little Chi. So who is right? I submit that both are wrong. The first group is wrong because those who use X are not attempting to either “x-out” Christ or sneak in paganism to the holiday. Let’s be real here and give those whose use it the benefit of the doubt. The second group is wrong also and I’d like to outline two reasons why. Also, there is a third group who uses X to save character space on tweets. There is no redemption for this group and may God find mercy on your soul.
There’s a famous quote about real estate which says “Location, Location, Location.” I’d like to change that for this blogs purposes to “Context, Context, Context.” Context is everything! For instance, let’s take the argument that X is just a substitute for Christ and apply that out of its context (a holiday) to the larger media.
This has been one of my favorite new shows! It is so much better then that Xtina Aguilera one where she sits in that large chair all snarky! It’s called the Christ-Factor! Young students glorify God with their abilities and hope to raise enough funds to go on the missions field. Totally awesome!
One of my favorite shows growing up was Christ-Men the animated series. It was right after Spider Man on the Saturday morning cartoon rotation and my family always enjoyed it. A group of young students who had experienced a mutation after being Baptized in the Holy Spirit learn how to deal with their new abilities while not fitting into the larger society. It teaches us how to be in the world but not of it. Sadly, the show was perceived as being anti-women because it was “Christ-Men” and not “Christ-People” because women were not allowed to preach.
Professor Christ is one of my favorite Christ-Men and is right up there with Optimus Prime and Master Splinter as some of my childhood mentors. PC loved the Lord and even though he was disabled he used his discernment gifts to find other mutants to protect the world. He was a great leader, warrior and most importantly was able to see the good in others even when they couldn’t see the good in themselves.
While all of this is incredibly satirical and, yes, maybe even a little sarcastic I think you get the larger point. Context shows clearly that Christ was not meant to replace any of the above X’s. Now let’s expand this out to the larger, Western culture, who is more familiar with the X Factor and X-Men then they are with Christ, and ask what our culture sees when they see Xmas? Everywhere they look X is either filling in for some nameless object/emotion, summarizing a large group of things/people or, yes, replacing something altogether. Westerners do not see Chi in Xmas. They do not even know what Chi is. Ask yourself what does our world see when they see X in place of Christ and then ask yourself if having to explain the Greek letter is worth it. Every time I tried I got the response, “It’s all Greek to me.”
This is perhaps my favorite argument. We hear all the time that early Christians used X in place of Christ so it justifies the current usage.
However, there is not one “early Christian” (whatever this means itself is debatable) who used “X” alone in place Christ. In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary cites the first use of “X” in place of Christ as early as 1485 and any other latter usage until modern time was from English elitists who were educated enough to know ancient Greek in their private notes.
What was used by “early Christians” and not English elitists was the familiar Eastern Orthodox depictions of Christ as “XT” or “XP” which is officially called the Labarum. Catholics, Protestants and Eastern Orthodox believers have used the labarum for well over a 1,000 years and throughout the history of the English language “XT” and “XP” have always stood for Christ.
The only point I wish to make here is that the claim that Christians throughout the ages used “X” is not true.
There was an American cartoon that took on the Holiday wars and had it’s main character Stan upset that “Liberals” had destroyed Christmas. The best part was when Stan was in a check out counter and the attendant wished him a Happy Holidays in reply to Stan wishing him a Merry Christmas. Stan replied to the guy: “I said Merry Christmas” and he again replied with “Happy Holidays.” This went on for about three or four more rounds until Stan pulled out a gun on the attendant. The next scene was Stan being thrown out of the store while the people throwing him out wished him a Happy Holidays.
Inevitably these discussions sort of feel like the above scene. Both sides miss the larger point and it eventually comes down to someone pulling a theoretical gun on the other to make them see their point and concede. “You’re taking Christ out of Christmas” or “You’re denying historical facts.” I’m not interested in advocating either one because both are false. I favor using the good ole’ fashion Christmas cause no one (except them silly progressives) fights that one anyway. What does interest me is the why behind the usage and so far I have not found a valid reason to use X instead of Christ in Christmas.
How about you? Why do you use Xmas? Why don’t you? I’d love to hear both!