Does Xmas take Christ Out of Christmas?

What is the Meaning of Xmas? Does it really take the Christ out of Christmas? Find out where the term Xmas came from here.

The Xmas vs Christmas Debate.

The Accusation

Just this past Sunday, I got an email from a reader that took me off guard.

I had sent out a newsletter entitled,

"Today Only Essential Oils Savings - FREE Shipping, Discounts, & Xmas Delivery"

This reader replied to my newsletter with this email:"You lost me with the "X" instead of "Christ" mas. "

I felt horrible.

And quickly emailed a response to address her concerns.

And just in case someone else might have felt the same way, I wanted to address this publicly. Plus I think it's a fabulous opportunity for learning more about the Early Christians.

What is the Meaning of Xmas? Does it really take the Christ out of Christmas? Find out where the term Xmas came from here.

The "Xmas" vs. Christmas Debate

There has been some talk over the years regarding those who use the term "Xmas" instead of "Christ"mas are doing so in order to "take the Christ out of Christmas".

Is that what I was doing?

No, and it grieves my heart to think that someone would think that that was my motive.

So let me explain.

When I was finishing up my newsletter, I needed to choose a title for it and the space allotted to me is quite short. If I type in too many characters, the full title won't show and it doesn't always make sense. So while figuring out how to shorten the title, I decided to use "Xmas" instead of "Christmas."Typically, in years past, I wouldn't have done that due to the talk about taking the "Christ" out of Christmas and my not wishing to participate in removing Christ from Christmas -- or any Holiday, for that matter :).

I heard folks talking about the need to say "Merry Christmas" and stating that if one used "Xmas" instead of "Christ"mas, that they were trying to secularize the Christian Holiday by avoiding saying "Christ" and it concerned me.

I even remember sheepishly writing "Xmas" while taking notes in college.  I justified my actions by thinking "well, no one else is seeing this--I'm just trying to write as fast as I can and take advantage of a convenient abbreviation.

My Xmas "Conversion"

So how did this "concerned about Keeping Christ in Christmas" gal end up using "Xmas" in a blog newsletter title?

Here's how.

One thing you might not know about me is that my husband has an MDiv (a Master's of Divinity).  That's pretty much the Master's Degree that one gets when thinking about going into the pastorate.

He had intended to use the degree on the mission field, but also for his PhD as his area of concentration is John Milton, who is arguably one of the most famous Christian writers.

We had a change of plans and now he is an English Professor, but suffice it to say he cares a good deal about his faith.

We both do.

The Meaning of the "X"

Well, typically we think of the "X" as being an unknown as in algebra where we solve problems like "x + 2 = 3y" and such.
Or we think of the X in X-rated (not a good association).

Or the "X" means to cross out or mark a space (e.g. "x-out the answer or "x marks the spot")

But in this case, the X in Xmas is really not an X, but instead it's a reference to Christ.

While in seminary, "Whole New Dad" (he's really not called this--I'm just calling him this for fun) took COPIOUS notes and he had "Xtian" (Christian) written numerous times in the margins of books and elsewhere.  

I noticed it, and asked him about it, since I'd thought that the "x" was removing Christ from a word, but here it was being used by someone who certainly wouldn't want to do that.

"Whole New Dad" corrected my thinking, informing me that the “X” is actually indicating the Greek letter “Chi”, which is short for the Greek, meaning “Christ”.

The first letter of the Greek word "Christos" is represented in our English alphabet as an X. And the X has come been a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ throughout history.

Interesting, eh?

So it then follows that “Xmas” isn't a non-religious version of “Christmas”.

Instead, it's just a way to write "Christ" in a shorthand way.

Additionally, I think it's interesting, in thinking of the way that Christ died, that the "X" forms a kind of cross.

I guess instead of worrying about the "X" being a problem, perhaps we could be enthused about our connection to the Early Christians in our use of their symbol for Christ.


I hope that you and yours have a Very Blessed Xmas!
I'd love to hear your thoughts about this!

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  1. Since some people are offended by Xmas, I use Pxmas. Those are the Greek letters Chi and Rho, the first 2 letters of Christ.

  2. Thank you for making this public. My dad was a pastor and was well versed in Greek as part of his training. But most people no longer have the opportunity to learn Greek or Latin. (I didn't other than the things Dad taught us - which were significant now that I look back on it.) I still try to write out the whole word so I'm being absolutely clear to all of what I believe. Whether one writes "Christ" or "X", we're being pretty specific in a world that usually cheats it out by saying "Holiday"! And, using "X" is is a great way to start this particular conversation πŸ™‚

    1. You're so welcome! I started Latin w/ my boys but other things got in the way. We might try again :). Take care! You are blessed to have learned some for sure.

  3. So glad to see this... I searched this out several years ago and found the same! It's just another way the enemy tries to cause division. Just like he does when people argue which translation of the Bible is best... Jesus used the Torah... πŸ™‚
    God bless you and Merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks so much, Tess. And that's a fabulous analogy about the Torah. Of course, the NT hadn't been written yet, but you are right - he used the Hebrew version:). I do think, however, that some versions are not the best choice.

      Merry Christmas to you as well!

  4. Since Christmas is actually a man made pagan holiday, you can't really take Christ out of something He was never in, in the first place.

    1. Hi Kym. I've had numerous comments about this here and on my Facebook page. I do appreciate the thinking and your commenting for sure, but the post wasn't about whether or not to celebrate Christmas so that is a whole different topic :).

      I do think that this post takes a good angle on it, however, and would love to know what you think.

      I also think about how we can have Christ be in any thing that we celebrate or do by "practicing his Presence" so to speak (and I am not a fan of mystics so please do not read that that way) and believe me, I am not about taking horrid things like X-rated movies and watching them and saying that we can bring God into everything.

      Let me know what you think :). I personally think it's fine to celebrate Christ's birth. We don't do everything the way the world does and do limited gifts and this year no tree, but that is b/c of some big life changes. Thanks again.

  5. When I saw the title of this article, I knew EXACTLY what was coming, and I, too, have been taught that the X is the "short/hidden" meaning for Christ. i used to think the same as the reader who initially commented to you, but since feel much better about using Xmas, as I now know that it doe NOT remove Christ from a holiday that society has so horribly twisted to remove any reference to our Lord’s birth.

    1. Thanks, Carol. I just heard from another commenter above that they can't teach about Christ's birth in school. It's very disconcerting. Thanks!

  6. Thank you so much for your post. I found it so interesting and informative! I guess more of us need to go study the background of things before we get all worked up!! That was defiantly new information for me! I thoroughly enjoy your blog, thank you for all the time you put into it!!

  7. Brava! I wish more people knew this rather than hollering at everyone who writes xmas! I also have a Bachelor of Theology and have taken 4 years of Biblical Greek, and this is of course the answer. Often people are at least familiar with the Chi-Rho, which was the Chi (X) with the rho going thru the middle, rho being the second letter of Christos. It is a sad thing that Christians will argue over so many things instead of loving one another. Good post, important to know, i think. xoxoxo (those are hugs and kisses, hahahaha!) shelley

    1. Thanks so much - appreciate the encouragement! I'm all for standing up for important things but the nit picking can be a little much.

  8. I already knew this. I'm glad you addressed the issue. It's about time someone did. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

  9. Hi Adrienne,

    Thank you for the post! I find word studies fascinating. I like history and digging into the archeology of the Bible and the science, and customs. I have a site that I found very interesting after I watched a DVD of the Star of Bethlehem. When you have time, (hah you have a family πŸ™‚ ) you may want to dig into the site. This confirms the Bible and gave me some surprises and I learned quite a bit about the customs of the time of Jesus, the Magi, the star, Herod, etc.

    Merry and blessed X-Mas, and Happy and blessed New Year,


  10. I enjoyed this post. πŸ™‚

    I have a "Christmas question" that I'm wondering if I can get your take on? Your husband is welcome to chime in as well. πŸ™‚

    I struggle with some of the traditions involved with Christmas. Don't get me wrong, because I am not referring to Christmas itself. I am a Christian and I celebrate Jesus' birth. I just struggle with some things involved, specifically Christmas trees, and I'm sure this is due to my upbringing. My parents believe that a Christmas tree is pagan because Jeremiah 10 days that heathens cut down a tree, brought it into the city, and decorated it with silver and gold. They also say that when you kneel to place gifts under a Christmas tree that you are bowing down to the tree like it's an idol. My husband and I have not had a Christmas tree for several years now because I feel like I'm doing something wrong to have it in my home, and my parents won't visit if it's here. But now that we have a toddler, we aren't sure what to do. I kind of hate for him to miss out on the fun --unless it truly is sin. My husband says it is ok, because we do some things traditionally that were also spoken against in the Bible, and we are not doing them to disobey God (such as "adorning" ourselves with jewelry [wedding rings] or "plaiting" hair). Regardless of whether or not it is right or wrong, I honestly don't see how a Christmas tree actually helps me celebrate Jesus' birth. I've told my husband that we will do whatever he thinks is best, but he is holding off because he knows that I struggle with this.

    What is your take on Christmas trees?

    Thanks! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi there. You are so welcome! I am in the midst of an uber busy time, but here's my quick stab at this.

      I see the issue w/ the pagan trees, but I think that it's more an issue of the heart than the thing. I lived in Japan for a year and was very steeped in their culture. They would offer rice balls and other foods to their gods. I had no issue eating those foods away from an alter b/c they were not offered to their gods. Paul was very clear about not worrying about the meat sacrificed to idol. I wouldn't let this get in the way of your relationship w/ your parents so that's a toughy.

      You clearly aren't bowing down to a tree to worship it. Will they not visit you b/c of the tree? Sigh.

      In light of 1 Cor 8 I think you have freedom to do what you want on this issue. Obviously the tree isn't sacrificed to an idol. In much of church tradition the evergreen is symbolic of the life we have everlasting through Christ. This is an issue of Christian freedom but you will have to figure out how to handle it w/ your parents in light of 1 Cor 9-13. Maybe if you share this w/ them you can talk it out with them and have a good discussion.

      Probably it's more important to have a relationship w/ your grandparents than to have a tree.....

      Most of this is from my husband, by the way. Hope it helps.

      1. I am not Christian, but I personally think it's lovely that we can combine traditions -- pagan or christian or whatever -- it makes us richer as people and a nation. We were not raised Christian, yet we still celebrate Christmas. Or Xmas. And we celebrated the story of Jesus's birth. We also have good friends -- she was raised Jewish and he Christian. And we celebrate Hanukkah with them each year -- my kids love it. There is so much to learn from each other and each other's traditions. Beautiful stories that make us look deeper at humanity. I'm not sure how it becomes anti-Christian to also embrace what others do.
        On a side note: Here in Canada most public schools no longer share the story of Jesus's birth (not allowed), and Xmas in school is made up of Santa and spending and snowmen, with none of the beautiful carols we sand at school as children. And that makes me kind of sad.
        Great post, by the way, Adrienne. Happy Xmas!

        1. That is crazy that they don't share the story of Christ's birth. It's an historical event. How ridiculous.

          I personally, as a Christian, don't celebrate pagan holidays, but I have celebrated Passover b/c the Christian faith is rooted in the Jewish faith. The ceremony is quite beautiful. I have thought about Hanukkah as well.

          Thanks much, Sara and Merry Xmas to you as well!

    2. I hope Adrienne won't mind my chiming in here, because we've had this same struggle in my household. My personal belief is that the Jeremiah passage is completely irrelevant. It's describing the construction of an idol -- you know, make something out of wood, overlay it with precious metals, etc. But, with that said, I totally freaked out over our Christmas tree about ten years ago when a neopagan friend started talking about her Yule tree, and I realized that these pagan celebrations *are not in the ancient past*; they're still going on today.

      But just because something is*used* for evil doesn't necessarily mean it *can't* be used for good. We don't, as a church, ban sex because it's frequently abused. πŸ˜‰ So here I was all upset about our tree, and my husband was a little upset that I was upset, because he'd very carefully and intentionally chosen the decorations for our tree (before we were married, when it was HIS tree) with a Christ-centric symbolism. So as we worked through this what we sorted out was that the symbolism he'd so carefully chosen was not readily in the forefront of my mind or our daughter's, given that WE didn't choose it and we weren't doing anything to consciously emphasize it. Our solution was to form a new tradition that specifically *focused on* this symbolism, and had the effect of making the tree part of something that directly, intentionally,and effectively drove us to the Lord.

      Here's a guest post I wrote at a mutual friend's (of Adrienne and me) site that summarizes what we do:

      (And keep in mind this is coming from someone who doesn't do ANY of the Easter trappings -- including calling our celebration of the resurrection "Easter," because those trappings are pretty much all designed to honor Ishtara, the "queen of heaven," so this was not something we took lightly.)

      1. Of course I don't mind, Rachel :).

        I totally agree with you. How funny about Easter. I'm not ready to tackle that one :). Well, we go to church but that's about all we do here. I've made an occasional treat but nothing much in recent years.

  11. I had always thought that the X stood for the cross - a more delicate way to refer to the crucifixion - denoting God's 'gift' of his son for the benefit of believers.
    I studied Latin for 4 years in high school and picked up a bit of Greek but was unaware of the connection between Chi and Christ.
    I love learning and I love words and grammar. Thanks for the insight.

  12. Thanks for all the work you do and fo this response. Hope the person who condemned you reads it and understands. I feel confident you are a Christian and also that our Lord is not concerned with Xmas or Christmas, He is only concerned with what is in our hearts. May God Bless you and yours and may you have a Merry Christmas.

    1. You are so welcome. I don't blame her at all - to the contrary, while I was upset at first, it was mainly that I might have offended a bunch of readers. Of course I can make a mistake but I meant it only for good. Blessings to you and yours as well.

  13. No worries XMas or Christmas has never been Christian. Any encyclopedia explains the origin of Christmas as being a Roman 'pagan' Holiday that became christianized to try and reduce conflicts between Roman citizens and Christians. Loyal Christians refused to compromise and would not celebrate the holiday. Jesus never commanded his followers to celebrate his birthday, but to remember his death and what that stood for, the redemption of mankind.. The celebration of birthdays is pagan and not supported in Gods Word. I'm sure your husband with his religious training can across this in his studies.

    1. I'm sorry but I really have too much going on right now. I wrote this post about whether or not Xmas is a problem and I don't think it is. As for whether or not birthdays should be celebrated I will have to recommend you read this and then let me know what you think (sorry I posted a link but the site is defunct now so I had to remove the post years after I shared it). Thanks! I am under a huge pile and can't spend too much time on this right now but don't want you to feel neglected. Thanks!

  14. Actually, if you check the Jewish celebration for the birth of Christ, it is not in winter,.Xmas actually began as a pagan ritual of worshiping the winter solstice. AND SATURDAY IS THE SABBATH , NOT SUNDAY

    1. Hi Lori and thanks for commenting. Do you have a reference for that? I know that the Sunday vs Saturday issue is that even in the New Testament it talks about

      As for the timing, does it really matter? If we want to celebrate Christ's birth, isn't it fine to do so at any time of year? I wonder about folks who are so upset about the celebration of Christmas. Are they also as upset about all of the people who think of / portray Jesus as being white? He almost certainly wasn't. What are your thoughts on that?

      I am aware that there are discussions about Christmas having pagan origins, however just as a pagan group could "hijack" a Christian holiday so could Christians do the same thing. I think it's clear that there is no biblical mandate to celebrate or not celebrate Christmas, but I am more than happy to celebrate Christ's birth any day.

      Personally we don't do all the "trappings and trimmings" each year and this year it's almost everything.

      I've done a lot of reading on this and just b/c we aren't told to celebrate his birth doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. There are a lot of things that aren't directly commanded in Scripture that folks do. We aren't commanded to celebrate Palm Sunday either or Good Friday, but we do that. And my family has celebrated the Passover.

      Additionally, my post didn't address these things - I was just talking about the Xmas issue.

      I honestly do not have the research behind me about whether or not to celebrate Christmas but I am for sure not advocating Satan worship. Maybe I need to write another post .

      I think this post is fairly good re: what you are saying:

      Tell me what you think - I would love to hear:).

    2. Hi Lori - came back to address the Sabbath issue - just quickly (I am super busy), Acts 20:7 it says that "and upon the first day of the week when the disciples were come together to break bread, Paul preached unto them". The first day is Sunday so it's clear that the early church was having communion and preaching on Sunday. Let me know what you think.

  15. Love your posts....knew rite away that it was a space thing- also knew that the X is Christ. But readers need to know and you did an awesome job! Thanks for all you do....and may X be with you and yours this Xmas.

  16. Years ago when I was younger and much less wise, I got miffed whenever I saw Xmas used in place of Christmas. I thought others were taking Christ out of Christmas, and I made it a point to take the time to write out the entire word of Christmas.

    Then... one day a very wonderful Seminary teacher shared with me what you just wrote- and it totally changed my way of thinking! He also pointed out that the X was a turned cross, just as you did.

    Being that I love symbolism and words or things with deep meaning... I now embrace Xmas just as much as I do Christmas. And I think the Savior, our Lord, Jesus Christ is honored either way.

    Another thing I wanted to mention is those who cannot say- Merry Christmas, and use the phrase- Happy Holidays. Once upon a time ago this also bothered me. But I honored and respected those who aren't able to say Merry Christmas because of employment of what-have-you-may obligations. Then I learned that the word, "holiday," came from the word/term or reference- Holy Day. So... I hope this phrase or salutation doesn't become "forbidden," like, "Merry Christmas!"

    Regardless of ones religious or personal preference- Merry Christmas, Merry Xmas, or Happy Holidays/Holy Days. Blessings to all! Thank you for sharing this Adrienne!

    1. I agree with you completely. I do think that there is a ton of persecution happening and / or coming our way, but I don't think that this is one of those cases. Blessings to you and yours!

  17. Ah, a teaching opportunity to benefit those who sometimes inadvertently let wrong voices log erroneous 411 into their brains. Acurtis and Adrienne are correct here. "X" is, simply put, the initial for the Christ. It is widely understood/accepted as such. Additionally, I thought the EO connection especially on target; the gifts of the three kings after all included very precious essential oils.

    I so appreciate all your hard work, Adrienne, and wish for you continued success. Merry Xmas to you and yours!

    1. What a nice connection with the essential oils - you are so right. Thank you for your kind wishes and Merry Xmas to you and yours as well. Actually, I used to be upset about "Happy Holidays" too but it is a reference to "Holy Days" so I am OK with that as well :).

  18. Thank you for sending this out. I used to think like the lady who gave you a hard time. Hopefully she will read it and have a new understanding.

  19. Hi Adrienne,

    I really appreciate your posts in general. If you want to know the truth about Christmas and not the world's version, feel free to email me and I'll provide that information to you.



    1. Hi Eric. If you are referring to the claims that Christmas is a pagan holiday I am aware of those. I have my own opinions but I am aware of the shortcomings. We don't do that much about the "worldly" side of Christmas here. You can share if you like. Thanks :).

      1. Hi David,

        Jesus Christ wasn't born on December 25. There are many sources that contribute to the truth of that matter. He never gave us to celebrate His birth which is why there's no record of His day of birth.


        1. Hi Eric. As you can see, others have mentioned issues like this and I do appreciate it. However, this post was about the issue of Xmas and whether or not it takes Christ out of the holiday. I guess I should write another post about celebrating Christmas? I would love to know what you think about this post. Overall I think that it makes good points. Thanks again :).

          I do have one point to add - there are many things that Christians think are important that Christ didn't command so I guess this could be a very lengthy discussion. What are your thoughts about that?

          1. Hi Adrienne,

            You cannot take Christ out of Christmas, because He's never been in it. Man has layered Him on top of a pagan holiday and the Lord isn't into mixtures of Him and man's imaginations and traditions. So there's no separation between a post about taking him out and a post about celebrating Christmas.
            I'm giving you a link to what God has given us to say to the world which lies in darkness. If you have a
            heart for the truth and not just everyone's opinions, then you'll read at this link and let me know if you have any comments or questions.



  20. Thank you for this post! I have always thought of Xmas as you stated--that the "X" stands for the Greek meaning and also for the cross.

    I went to a Lutheran College, and that was what we were taught/learned.

    It doesn't matter to me if people say Merry Christmas or Merry Xmas; they both mean the same thing.

    Have a wonderful holiday season!


    1. You are so welcome! I am glad that the reader commented - I hope I didn't offend anyone else :). Merry Christmas to you as well!