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War Is Over (You Only Have to Want It)

25 Dec 2015

Xmas Card

Christmastime is a perfect time to discuss the ending of wars, everywhere. John Lennon even wrote a song about it, Happy Xmas (War Is Over), which you can listen to here. Sadly, some people choose to ignore the celebratory message of this song in favor of making up a message of their own - decrying the non-existent "war on Christmas". It's time to realize that there is no such war, and that the only war is by those pretending otherwise. Christmas should be a time of celebration, not of complaint. In that spirit, let me explain why Xmas is very Christian. Or should I say Xtian? Both originated hundreds of years ago as standard abbreviations for signs with limited space for messages. More recently it was used for early Christmas cards, such as the one above, from 1910 (courtesy of Wikipedia).

"Xmas", "Xtian" and similar phrases gained usage almost 1,000 years ago in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. In fact it will be exactly one millennia in 2021. To understand why the abbreviations were used, merely examine the Greek derivation of the word Christ:
Transliteration gives us Christos, where X is chi (rhymes with guy), and the final letter is not the s of sigma but the cz of zeta. Chi, rho, iota, sigma, tau, omega, zeta. Even before Xmas was the popular use of the Chi-Rho symbol for Christ, which was used by Constantine in the 4th century C.E., again courtesy of Wikipedia:
Constantine, you may recall, gave status to Christianity by favoring it across the Roman Empire.

With Greek as the context it becomes obvious that X is a logical abbreviation for Christ, logical at least when brevity is at a premium. Today some evangelists have taken up the banner of anti-Christianity as a publicity gimmick; their efforts suffer a paucity of both grace and love. But despite the history of Xtianity going back many centuries, a modern man uses the X terms advisably, with the understanding that it may be offensive to others. In modern times we have plenty of room on our signs, and the cost of ink is no longer an issue, so why go there?

You may also like this related article: Winter Solstice Celebration (108)
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