Saturday, January 17, 2009

"Keep the X in Xmas"

Apologies: Since I was de-laptopped during most of December and only posting pre-scheduled things, there are some things I thought about then and feel the bloggy need to still get off my chest.

Another of those things about Christmas that bugs me is this whole idea by the overly religious that using the word "Xmas" is somehow an attempt to remove focus on Jesus as Christmastime. They don't know the history of why it was first used and they assume motives that are just not there. And they fall flat on their faces in terms of teachable moments.
The term Xmas was first used by the Christian church when printing presses were becoming available and they began to publish church bulletins and fliers about Christmas and Christmas events. It was expensive to buy ink and time consuming to set type, so one way to conserve in that process was to use abbreviations. St. for Saint and X for Christ. Historically, X was used by some sects of Christianity to name Jesus because his name was too holy to write out. So the X was a special way to represent him that drew attention to his extremely exalted holiness. It was a way of honoring Jesus. So when the churches used the term in type, they were using an historical abbreviation for reasons of economy. That's all. No conspiracy to remove Jesus from Christmas. And why has it been done since? Same reason, pretty much. Not that it is so expensive to print and type-set anymore, but that every inch of advertising space in print and in display must have impact. To write out a long 9 letter word like "Christmas" means it has to be of a certain smaller font that writing out a 4 letter word like "Xmas". It can be "Merry Xmas" or "Xmas sale" instead of "Merry Christmas" or "Christmas Sale". No disrespect at all is meant, and indeed, most often, the use occurs in marketing gifts, which are a celebration of the "wisemen" or "kings" bringing gifts to the baby Jesus, a very Christian tradition. Or in the marketing of Christmas decorations, for which Christian meaning can be attributed to every symbol.
The sad pathetic story the overly religious use to poo-poo the use of "Xmas" concerns a little boy who allegedly saw the word on a sign and asked his daddy if they had crossed Jesus out of Christmas. The damn fool opportunity-missing father chose to fill his kid with negative paranoia by saying "I guess they did, Son, I guess they did," when, if he had any sense, he would have turned it positive for the boy and said "Jesus is so special that sometimes a great big X is used for his name, and stores can write the word much bigger if they make it have fewer letters, and they like to do that because Christmas is such a special word." If anyone makes it into anything negative, it is their own fault, so can we have less whining about this next Christmas, I mean, next XMAS?

No comments: