X is for Xmas

A couple things:
1. As this Wikipedia article suggests, the use of the X(or a variant) has long historical precedent, close to a millennium, long before the days of modern advertising. The word “Christ” and its compounds, including “Christmas”, have been abbreviated in English for at least the past 1,000 years, long before the modern “Xmas” was commonly used.
“Christ” was often written as “XP” or “Xt”; there are references in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as far back as AD 1021. This X and P arose as the uppercase forms of the Greek letters χ and ρ, used in ancient abbreviations for Χριστος (Greek for “Christ”), and are still widely seen in many Eastern Orthodox icons depicting Jesus Christ. The labarum, an amalgamation of the two Greek letters rendered as ☧, is a symbol often used to represent Christ in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian Churches.
In ancient Christian art, χ and χρ are abbreviations for Christ’s name. In many manuscripts of the New Testament and icons, X is an abbreviation for Christos, as is XC (the first and last letters in Greek, using the lunate sigma); compare IC for Jesus in Greek. The Oxford English Dictionary documents the use of this abbreviation back to 1551, 50 years before the first English colonists arrived in North America and 60 years before the King James Version of the Bible was completed. At the same time, Xian and Xianity were in frequent use as abbreviations of “Christian” and “Christianity”; and nowadays still are sometimes so used, but much less than “Xmas”.

So, no, this is not my assault on Christmas; it is my attempt to get to the historical roots.

2. At least in my church calendar, we are in the midst of Christmastide (or Xmastide, if you will), beginning on December 25 and going forward to Epiphany or Three Kings Day, or as my mother still calls it, Russian Christmas. In my hometown, there were lots of Russians and most of them attended the Russian Orthodox Church. THESE are the 12 days of Christmas, which is good because I’m still working on some presents. Before Christmas Eve, I’m not particularly interested in playing Christmas music, but NOW ever more so.

The pleasant surprise this Christmas was that I went out front to get the newspaper on Christmas morning. I discovered a doll for Lydia from an unexpected source – the three neighbor girls a few houses up. I don’t even know their names, and they don’t know Lydia’s (the card referred to her as the “little cutie”). I suspect that the girls, who appear to be between 10 and 14, saw a cute doll while they were shopping, and decided to give it to someone they saw waiting with her mom or dad at the bus stop in front of their house each morning.
December 26: I’m wearing a Santa hat (one I had left at work two days earlier). I had a red coat, and a beard. I’m waiting for a bus when this guy I didn’t even see said, “Hey, Santa.” I turn around. The guy continues, “Got some change? I don’t get any money until the first of the month. ” Roger might have turned him down, but Santa could not.

If you lived in the United States at Christmastime, you might remember the Folgers coffee commercial where “Peter” makes a surprise visit home for the holidays; it ran \for over a decade and a half. The story behind the commercial.


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