Sunday, December 7, 2008

The “X” in “Xmas”: An Irreverent Commercial Contrivance?

During the Reagan Years – which I admittedly lived through, the word “Xmas” was targeted by Catholic priests during their “Yuletide” sermons as a sure sign of the commercialism of Christmas. Is this true?

By: Ringo Bones

If there is one redeeming quality that can be said about then US President Ronald Reagan is that he managed to rally a so-called “united front” against the then Soviet Union. He even managed to convince present day al-Qaeda and Taliban thugs to fight for him back then. But despite his charisma, Reagan did create an unpleasant conservatism fervor during the 1980’s that favors demagoguery over erudite reasoning.

Take the use of the word Xmas as a common interchangeable substitute for Christmas. An overwhelming majority of Catholic priests during the 1980’s describe the word “Xmas” as either an irreverent commercialized contraction of the word Christmas where Christ was replaced by an “X” signifying the almighty mammon that made the “Christmas Season a materialistic rather than a holy and charitable season”. Or in relation to the previous argument a space-saving journalistic invention for the convenience of headline writers. But it was only during the “enlightenment” of the Clinton era that the truth behind the word “Xmas” was finally freely divulged to the general public.

Maybe it was one of the episodes of the Discovery Channel that I found out that “Xmas” is indeed reverent. The use of the word Xmas originated in the early Greek Church - read that: early Greek Church, probably the origin of the Greek Orthodox Church. The Greek letter “X” which is pronounced “Chi” is the first letter of Christ’s name in Greek, and it was frequently used as a holy symbol. If you have any doubts about this, just arrange for a packaged tour by your friendly neighborhood travel agent. Since Greece is currently peaceful and their old Greek Orthodox Churches are a prime tourist spot, you can document / observe those various old iconic portraiture of Christ and note the Greek writings. All it takes is a few thousand dollars in airfare and other expenses by the way.

Given that the Catholic Church – despite proving us with the Nativity Scene as their contribution to the symbolism of the Christmas Season, She (or Her as the Catholic Church / Vatican is referred) seems to be critical of other Christmas “Iconography” that originates from other Christian sects. Like Santa Claus which everyone in the West ascribe to European Anglo-Saxon Protestant Christianity, and the word “Xmas” which has Greek Orthodox origin. I mean belief in Santa Claus has never harmed anyone. It’s not like Father Angus MacGyver can no longer perform the miracle of turning stone into bread in some refugee camp in Darfur, Sudan if all of Christendom continues to believe in Santa Claus. Does it?

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