Xmas is coming! Does that offend you that Christ has been replaced by X?
I confess that I often use X as an abbreviation, not so much in published writing, but in my own note taking, my very limited form of shorthand. I use X for Christ and Xn for Christian. Shocked? Horrified? Worried about me?
I understand that X can mean the unknown factor in Algebra or various other uses for X in our culture. But none of that is the background for Xmas. Rather there is a longstanding history, at least 500 years, of using Christograms, that is symbols of Christ.
The X in Xmas is really not the 24th letter of our English alphabet, but the Greek χ, anglicized as Chi. But the use of χ for Christ has a much longer history, going all the way back to the first century, the first letter in the Greek χριστός, Christ. In the early church of the first century, the Greek word for fish, ἰχθύς, served as a symbol of Christian identity. This is an acronym for the Greek words, Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ θεὸς υἱοῦ σωτὴρ, which is translated Jesus, Christ, God, Son, Savior.
Because few know that background, I don’t commonly refer to Xmas in public writing or speaking. but I hope the X will now trigger for you, not the unknown factor, but the wonder and beauty of Xmas, which is all about Jesus Christ.
For further detail, take a look at What Does the X in Xmas Mean? by R.C. Sproul and from the dictionary.com blog What is the X in Xmas?
And for those who do see X as the unknown factor, let that be a challenge to you to share the good news that the X is Christ!