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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Merry Christmas xxx

Xmas 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 "-mas" part is from the Latin-derived Old English word for Mass, while the "X" comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός which comes into English as "Christ".

There is a common belief that the word Xmas stems from a secular attempt to remove the religious tradition from Christmas by taking the "Christ" out of "Christmas", but its use dates back to the 16th century. So “Xmas” and “Christmas” are equivalent in every way except their lettering.

In fact, although writing guides such as those issued by the New York Times; the BBC; The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style; and Oxford Press discourage the use of Xmas in formal writing, at one time, it was a very popular practice, particularly with religious scribes, who are thought to have started the whole “Xmas” thing in the first place. Indeed, the practice of using the symbol “X” in place of Christ’s name has been going on amongst religious scholars for at least 1000 years.

Eventually, this shorthand trick spread to non-religious writings where nearly everywhere “Christ” appeared in a word, the Greek Chi would replace that part of the word. For example, in the 17th and 18th centuries, there are numerous non-religious documents containing instances of “Xine”, which was a common spelling for someone whose name was Christine.

I want to offer, on behalf of the ABC Wednesday team, a sincere wish that your Xmas, or Christmas, be a merry one.



8 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing the info about XMas. Got to learn.
    Merry Christmas to you, your family & all the lovely folks and our extended family of ABCW :)
    Warmest wishes!

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  2. And a happy Christmas to you too, Mrs. N!!

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  3. Merry X-mas to you! And a very happy 2015.

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  4. Great minds do think alike! Merry Xmas!

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  5. I am the first one here on our side.
    I wish you Merry X-Mas and a Happx new Year.
    ♥ Greetings from Germany

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  6. I can tell you, I was shocked to open the page to ABC Wed. and to see a Y. For X, I had arranged to meet a project team at a local University for a very special X. I was going to have to hang my head in shame if I'd missed the X week! I'm hoping you just published Y a Xmas and Happy New Year!

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  7. Merry Xmas! Thanks for hosting.

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