Posts tagged ‘moveable type’

Xmas Is Not About Taking Christ Out of Christmas

By Chad Upton | Editor

Shortening Christmas to Xmas has been used since the 16th century and it’s not an attempt by secular culture to remove Christ from Christmas. It can actually be traced back to religious documents themselves and has history in etymology and practical applications.

Here’s an advertisement from a 1922 issue of the Ladies Home Journal:

xmas

Before the 16th century, Christ was frequently written as Xρ. Xρ kind of looks like Greek doesn’t it? It is. The Greek word for Christ is Χριστός, well it actually means “anointed” but it translates to English as Christ. The shortened version; Xρ, is just the first two letters.

Of course, the new testament was written in Greek, so it’s easy to see how this all started. Later, Xρ was further shortened to just X — that’s how we get Xmas. The X was also used in “Xtian”, a short form of “Christian”.

But, why not just type or write out Christmas or Christian?

Back when printing presses were first developed, typesetters had limited space to work with and a limited number of characters available, so they saved characters whenever possible. Although the abbreviations existed before the moveable type printing press, the abbreviations became much more popular because of them. Some of the most popular documents to print were bibles, so abbreviations were very important to printing bibles efficiently and cost effectively.

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Sources: wikipedia (xmas), Christian Resource Institute

December 5, 2013 at 2:00 am 5 comments


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