There was a reminder on my husband’s facebook feed this morning to remember not to write or type Xmas but to go the extra mile and type out Christ because Xmas is an attempt to take Christ out of Christmas. This is simply not true.
Xmas has been used as far back as the 1500’s and X has been a symbol meaning Christ as far back as a thousand years. “The “X” comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, which in English is “Christ”. The “-mas” part is from the Latin-derived Old English word for Mass. (Source)
X is just as valid a symbol of Christ as using the fish, which the early Christians used to avoid detection from persecutors and identify each other.
“The Greek word for fish is “ixthus” or “icthus.” The Christian fish symbol that many Christians place on their cars is known as the “ixthus.” Five Greek letters form the word “ixthus,” and those letters inside the fish form an acrostic which is a message that Christians clearly identified with. The first letter represented the word Jesus. The second letter [x] represented the word Christ, the next two, God Son, and the final letter represented the word Savior. This adds up to “Jesus Christ is God’s Son, the Savior.” (Source)
The Chi Rho (shown below) is another use of X as a symbol for Christ.
It’s true that there is an attempt to take Christ out of Christmas and to turn Christmas into a winter holiday but the use of Xmas is not one of them. The letter X representing Christ belongs to our Christian heritage and to wipe it out would erase an important part of it. It’s perfectly Christian (or should I write Xtian?) to write Xmas. However, it’s not appropriate to say Ex-mas as the X is not our English x as we know it. It’s a symbol for Christ.