The “X” in “Xmas” Doesn’t Take the “Christ” Out of “Christmas”

xmasMyth: “Xmas” is a non-religious name / spelling for “Christmas”.

It turns out, “Xmas” is not a non-religious version of “Christmas”. The “X” is actually indicating the Greek letter “Chi”, which is short for the Greek, meaning “Christ”. So “Xmas” and “Christmas” are equivalent in every way except their lettering.

In fact, although writing guides such as those issued by the New York Times; the BBC; The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style; and Oxford Press discourage the use of Xmas in formal writing, at one time, it was a very popular practice, particularly with religious scribes, who are thought to have started the whole “Xmas” thing in the first place. Indeed, the practice of using the symbol “X” in place of Christ’s name has been going on amongst religious scholars for at least 1000 years.

Eventually, this shorthand trick spread to non-religious writings where nearly everywhere “Christ” appeared in a word, the Greek Chi would replace that part of the word. For example, in the 17th and 18th centuries, there are numerous non-religious documents containing instances of “Xine”, which was a common spelling for someone whose name was Christine.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Facts:

  • The “-mas” part on the end of Christmas and Xmas comes from the Old English word for “mass”.
  • Other classic common abbreviations for “Christ” were: “Xp” and “Xt”, again both an abbreviated form of the Greek for Christ.
  • The Greek letters “X” (Chi) and “p” (Rho) superimposed together was once a very common symbol signifying Christ and was called, somewhat unimaginatively, the Chi-Rho.
  • The Chi-Rho was also used by scribes in a non-religious sense to mark some passage that was particularly good, with it literally implying “good”.
  • In 1977, the Governor of New Hampshire issued a press release stating that journalists should cease taking the “Christ” out of “Christmas” as “Xmas” was a pagan spelling of Christmas. Perhaps he should have run that press release by a religious scholar before issuing it. 🙂
  • Although, even those well versed and respected in Christianity often make the same mistake, such as Franklin Graham in an interview on CNN: “For us as Christians, this is one of the most holy of the holidays, the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. And for people to take Christ out of Christmas. They’re happy to say merry Xmas. Let’s just take Jesus out. And really, I think, a war against the name of Jesus Christ.”
Expand for References
Share the Knowledge! FacebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmail
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Enjoy this article? Join over 50,000 Subscribers getting our FREE Daily Knowledge and Weekly Wrap newsletters:

Subscribe Me To:  | 


  • Christ is not even a name a correct name, it came from greek “christos” that means “anointed”
    Jesus Christ actually means Jesus Anointed One

  • We already knew the ‘X’ in X-mass stood for christ.
    Haven’t you heard Christina Aguilera fans call her “X-tina”?
    Here’s another fact. Christmas originates from the pagan tradition of Saturnalia. The christians wanted to have fun too, so “Christmas” was brought about and they just sorta ‘played along’. So don’t think you’re being smart because I too am happily celebrating this wonderful pagan tradition of giving and receiving gifts and having a good time. lol.

    • Wrong. Yule was all of December and January, and was based on the lunar calendar. Christmas is the (solar) solstice. Saturnalia was observed in early December, and had nothing to do with the solstice. The feat of Sol Invictus was implemented by Aurelian in the late 3rd century, long after the tradition that Jesus was born on December 25th (as first attested in Julius Africanus, 221 AD.

      • Wrong. Saturnalia was observed approximately around the 17th and could continue through the 23rd. It was a major influence on the Christian practice of Christmas.

        • Both Saturnalia and the birth of Mithra; the early Christian church was fond of picking dates for their celebrations to coincide with existing sacred days, both as a compromise with those beliefs and to give those days Christian significance. The Catholic Encyclopedia quotes an early Christian with saying “O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born…. Christ should be born.”

    • Having fun was not on the early Christians’ minds. The wanted a time to safely celebrate the Christ’s birth.

    • um no the Christians took the winter solstice from the pagans and made it their own in return they wouldn’t kill the pagans but as we all know the Christian’s and Catholics killed more people for not believing in christ or God than any other religion in the history of man even after the commandment said thou shall not kill christianity is a cult of hypocrites

    • Everybody already knows about the pagan history behind most Xmas traditions. And this article is useful because while yes, everyone does know that Xmas means Christmas, there are still tons of people who get all bent out of shape when they see that abbreviation because they think it “takes Christ out of Christmas.” It’s an ignorant idea, yes, and that’s why this article is important, because it offers education to counteract that ignorance.

  • christmas tree & some festivities r pagan and were added to christmas, that doesnt take away from its meaning TSKarinaXteria…just because you dont get it doesnt mean ppl will stop celebrating Christs birthday
    maybe but not the celebration, go get your facts right before you infect ignorant minds…I don’t know why ppl like you who dont beleive have to always rain on ppl parades…stop being angry and go do some real research

    MErry Christmas !!!

    thanks for the clarification for X but I prefer Christmas to X

    • The Christmas tree was a Christian addition. Martin Luther decorated the first Christmas tree with lights. The lights represented the stars on the night of Christ’s birth.

      • It’s actually pagan, not christian…

        • it doesn’t matter does it, as the true meaning is the birth of Jesus, even if he was born in the spring and not winter, shepherds do not keep sheep out in the fields in the winter, but spring is the lambing season and the run up to passover.

      • The decorating of the tree was a Saturnalia tradition.

  • They stole pagan holidays like X mas and easter- where in that ridiculous comic book does it say chocolate or egg or bunny or any of the things most commonly associated with these holidays? It doesn’t. The entire religion is stolen piecemeal, right on down to that silly je$u$ character.
    And if you want to cry about raining on people’s parades, ask the millions of people that are subjugated and killed every day in the name of your superstition. Human rights are violated every day, people in Africa die from aids every day because the pope says condoms are evil. People are killed for being witches (YES this still happens) based on the words in your good book. To pretend that being against human rights violations perpetuated by religion every day means that you don’t know about them or don’t care.

    • Chill dude this article talks about the X in Xmas only, not the entire of Christian practices. And to say that people die from AIDS because Pope bans condom would be quite overgeneralizing, anw.

      • No, it would be literally true. Not only did, at least, John Paul II tell Catholics in Africa and other poor countries, that using condoms was a sin, they actually spread “scientific” propaganda that showed that condoms don’t even prevent HIV transmission. This is, of course, a lie. A very dangerous one. Yet it was taught to innocent, trusting Catholic Africans.

        John Paul II deliberately and directly caused the spreading of HIV in Africa. He promoted abstinence and chastity as methods of prevention. Thing is, while people would listen to his bullshit about not using condoms, they didn’t take any notice when he told them not to have sex so much.

        I’m not aware of the present Pope’s opinion on this matter, or if the Catholic church still spreads these lies.

        • All your statements are false an unfounded obviously you are an idiot islam or an agnostic or an athiest.. you should exude discernment and wisdom once in a while you moron…

    • Just sit there in your wrong and be wrong. Christians didn’t even call Easter “Easter” for nearly 1000 years. Are you seriously suggesting that Christians adopted the celebration of Easter but waited 1000 years before adopting the name of the holiday? And besides, there is no documented pagan holiday with the name “Easter” or “Eoster.” They only called it “Easter” because the Christian pascha was observed at dawn, or “easter” (in Anglo-Saxon).

    • Nobody “stole” Xmas from the pagans. The word “Christmas” was originally “Christ’s Mass” in the fourth century. It was actually three masses held in honour of the three births of Christ:

      1. His birth before all ages.
      2. His birth from Mary, his mother.
      3. His birth in the hearts of the faithful.

  • merry reefmas!!!! lol

  • Where did you come up with this nonsense? For starters, the Greek alphabet has been around 800 years longer than Jesus, so if any correlation has occurred it would be that ‘Christ’, like almost everything else in Christianity, was derived or taken from the Greek letter. Now, obvious fact notwithstanding, if the authors of this article actually new anything about history, which clearly they don’t, they’d know that the reason Jesus’ name is “Christ” is because the the most common language spoken around Jesus’ time was Aramaic and Latin, the Latin language being spoken predominantly by scholars, which subsequently uses the Greek alphabet as its base, hence the use of the letter X. Seriously, when Christians don’t know the answer to something do they just make it up in hope no one with a basic education will find out?

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Andrew: This article has nothing to do with the history of the Greek language nor why humans started calling Jesus “Christ”. It has to do with when the practice of substituting “X” for “Christ” started.

  • i feel as a christian we should take Christ out of christ-mass because this holiday was never christian to begin with but a mixture of the Roman Pagan winter solstice and the Germanic Pagan holiday of Yule which is why their is a Decorated Yule tree,wreaths presents, Santa Clause, and yule logs. all dealing with the false god odin who was depicted with a long white beard and gave presents during the winter season. catholics to keep pagans from worshiping theird gods adopted their holidays and christianized it to convert the pagans and then allowing the to keep their same traditions and practices while stamping Gods name on it. this is heresy and corruption even with christian liberty we should separate ourselves from our pagan roots and worship and celebrate God His way not like the world celebrate their gods. Dueteronomy 12:30-33. separate yourselves from the worlds traditions and practices and feasts as they do it to their gods they made with their own hands.

    • @Joseph
      Totally agree the two don’t mix at all. People need to stop participating in the paganism.

    • And if you really want to get technical about it, you have get rid of the title Christianity, neither Jesus or he’s true Apostles uses this term. Christianity came through “Apostle” Paul, who back ground as true follower of Jesus is merky at best. So most Christianity are really following the. Pauline doctrine not Jesus.

    • Just like a good Christian. Or any follower of the crazy fictional characters. People are enjoying themselves and spreading joy. We should stop them. If you don’t like it then don’t celebrate. But leave everyone else alone. I haven’t celebrated Xmas since I actually decided to open my mind along with books. But, I do celebrate the holiday season. It’s good to take time out of our insanely busy lives to spread joy and show love. To spend time with our families and friends and show them that we love and appreciate them. It’s not a bad thing at all.

    • Joseph, Saturnalia was celebrated in the Roman empire around December 25, in honour of the god Saturn. Gold and small images were exchanged as gifts and there were some pretty wild parties. But in 354 A.D. Bishop Liberius decided that such goings on should not be held in the “Christian” empire of Rome. So he got the celebration changed to that of celebrating the birth of Christ, by holding a mass in Christ’s honour (actually 3 masses for the 3 births of Christ). The wild parties continued. Only now they were held in honour of a different god.

    • Wait. No. What in the world are you talking about? Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. If you believe otherwise, you’re looking for trouble.

    • Exactly. Moedim are biblical, but Ishtar, Halloween, & Chr*stm*s, etc. are not. Father YHWH asked us to celebrate HIS days, not manmade or man-appointed days. His Word is clear, if we study it, so why does the ‘X’ even matter? Another fact: ‘X’ is His mark in the aleph-bet.

  • I’m glad to know this, Xmas is a short convenient abbreviation for Christmas. I don’t want to be offensive by using unacceptable language.

  • Ppl get offended too easily… you are all silly.
    I wonder if when Jesus returns if he will be speaking southern babtist English or the language of his birthplace?

    • Some companies (at least in Philly) have their public employees wish customers a “happy holiday”, and tell them never say Merry Christmas. Phila has a “Christmas Village” outdoor shopping are right outside of City Hall. A couple of years ago some merchants there that wern’t christian demanded that the name by changed. So they changed it to Holiday Village. Last year Mayor Nutter using good sense had it changed back. His wording was something like I’ve never heard of a “holiday holiday”. It’s an area celbrating Christmas, so change it back.

  • Yes. I’m absolutely convinced everybody abbreviating Christmas is well aware of the koine Greek alphabet, and fully intends to their readers to imply Jesus Christ mass, one of the most holy days of the Christian calendar.

    Come off it! MOST people who read & use X in place of Christ are at best lazy and at worst deliberately attempting to secularise the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

    The fact remains that Christians are not going to declare a jihad on anyone replacing the most important part of Christmas, so feel free to continue to display religious and cultural sensitivity only to those you fear and or feel politically obliged to where in a minority.

    Or, count the cost of writing it properly, and at least pretend to actually be tolerant and culturally sensitive to those billions of people who really would prefer you didn’t take Christ out of Christmas, whatever stretch of the imagination you’d otherwise use to rationalise it.

    Thanks! <3

  • I feel it is a waste of time talking about others belief. As a Christian Jesus is the savior of all. Praise Him and be saved.

    • And that is a very ignorant statement. Just because people believe something other than you, doesn’t mean that it’s a waste of time. In that sense, non-believers think church is a waste of time. And you will say that you f obt care. Nothing wrong with people believing in different things. But there is something wrong with you being so closed minded that you won’t even recognize a basic online discussion of different beliefs of the world. In fact, you went out of your way to tell others that no other beliefs matter, which is the most ignorant part of it.

      • Even though I am a very devout Christian, I would agree with @Lisa. Besides, if you truly are a Christian @k.Indira, you know that you are to spread the word of Jesus Christ. Which involves discussing beliefs with people. So not only is your statement ignorant, it also shows an unsound knowledge of your argument base. Read the Bible, take debate class, and then come back here and try to make sense.

        • Satan and his cohorts have been subtly and not so subtly distorting languages for much longer than “scholars” have been. Seriously study the English language and notice how so many words are so very ambiguous and distorted. The letter “X” is ment to mean to”X out”(or to rid of).Militant Malcom X, Any thing that replaces Christ is anti Christ, PERIOD. No excuse!

  • False! Replacing the name Christ (anointed) with an X is akin to crossing out his name and basically doing away with it! Isn’t that what Satan wanted and still wants? By the way, there is only one anointed savior and that is The Lord Jesus Christ! Anyone can be your savior but only one is anointed through whom you can really be saved! So, to replace Christ with an X is a symptom of a grave spiritual condition, one which which Satan uses under the excuse as to not offend others while backing it up with “wise” scholarly arguments! So, I don’t care! I say, Merry Christmas regardless of whom I offend! At the end of the day, I am accountable to God and not to man!

    • @Cristian: Hey dude! Do you even understand any Greek alphabet? If you’re really a Christian and really know that the New Testament was written in Greek, you should have known this.

    • Dude. You called Him Christ instead of Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. So were you crossing Him out? You didn’t address Him with His full Name. No one is suggesting that you must use X instead of Christ. They are just suggesting that it is a viable, non-blasphemous alternative.

  • Concerning the Bonus Facts, I think that the second Letter is not RHO it is IOTA. It is IOTA-CHI.

    IOTA stands for Ιησους (Jesus)
    CHI stands for Χριστος (Christ)

    Thank you.

  • Hello again.
    I’m repeating this message to kindly remove this image. If I do not here back a reply by Jan 5th, I’m going to assume that you chose to ignore my request.

    And I will be taking action through social media directed at you to remove this image that was not asks to you use.

    Thank you.


    • Daven Hiskey

      @kidchuckle: A better way to make such requests is simply by emailing us. These comment threads on over 3K articles are not checked very often. You’ll also typically want to provide proof when emailing places that you made the image as numerous people claim they made images that they most definitely did not, hoping to scam some money. That’s actually a pretty common thing.
      In any event, all images we use are either paid for by us, usually from stock photo places, shutterstock, deathtostockphotos, etc. (the vast majority), or from copyright free sources (usually wikimedia commons public domain stuff, though sometimes elsewhere), so you might want to check around, because your image must be in one of those places. In either of those cases, obviously we don’t need permission from the creator, but I’m assuming you’re telling the truth and do not otherwise place your images in the public domain else you wouldn’t be making such a request, so I went ahead and took the image down and replaced it with another.
      And just a little tip you might not be aware of, you most definitely will not ever want to try “taking action through social media directed at you,” that’s a great way to find yourself sued for slander if you encounter a sue-happy company, which many are. Best just to email direct and all that with anyone who’s using your images you don’t want to and just work it out that way.
      In any event, thanks for letting us know. It most definitely is not intentional. We’re pretty careful about this sort of thing obviously as we don’t ever want to find ourselves being sued. 😉 This and only one other image (of the moon) have we ever accidentally used an image we ultimately found out we didn’t have rights to. That one was also one that was pulled from a “public domain” pic site that the photographer had not given permission to be there. We simply paid him his stated normal royalties, rather than remove it, which he required for it as we really liked the shot for the particular article over other shots of the moon we had access to on shutterstock. Can’t remember why now, but there was something fairly unique about it that fit really well with whatever article that was. Cheers.

  • Thank you for complying.

    I gave a good amount of time frame for you to answer.
    Since I noticed the comments are moderated, and one comment below had been approved. And my comment had not been replied to contacted… It was safe to say message had bren read.

    On further note this artwork is not stock art. I’ve never submitted any artwork. I’ve putted it up on portfolio sites only. Nor was I paid for the work or asked permission. Stock images never have the artist name in the corner (that’s just a tip for you)

    I do realize I can be sued. But so can others who don’t check where their images come from. Also it is within my right to send it out publically if I’m ignored.or if the image weren’t acquired properly. You can’t win a law suit if you have don’t have documentation for proper use.

    But in any case thank you for removing my image from your article.

    And please double check where you get your source material.

    Happy new year.

    • Hi, KidChuckle,
      (and similar people who see their images used)

      Just because a list somewhere is moderated, you cannot say that a message has been read by a representative of the site. I’m not with this site, but I know that many similar sites have volunteer moderators whose job is simply to click a link if a post is relevant to the topic or not. That person might not have even read the entire post.

      When you do find an image improperly used, your best bet is to find official contact information for the site. You can use various WHOIS tools to find e-mail addresses that are registered to the owner.

      And when you politely ask that the image be removed (and I recommend that you don’t include threats for legal action until after they don’t reply to several messages), you might also ask where they found your image. Then you can also go after the place they got it from.

      For all you know, one of your friends may have played a practical joke on you, uploading your image to a public domain site or similar site granting use of your image, so other sites might also find your image there.

      Good luck.

  • I can give you info on the X representing Christ is religious circles that dates back to at least the 1940’s.

    My father went to Chicago Theological Seminary immediately after WW2. He told me when I was a kid that they were taught that X stood for Christ in their notes and in other places, and that Xmas was indeed a valid abbreviation for Christmas.

    I enjoyed your posts about this subject.


  • In the ICHTHUS (Fish Symbol) the letters IXOSE, the letter X stands for Christ. Jesus- Christ- Gods- Son- and Savior
    If it seems offensive to use the X in Christmas, then by all means please use all of the
    letters. And don’t get mad with those who just say Happy Holidays. There is nothing we can do or say to lessen the glory of our Lord and our God.

  • I really think that the X in xmas is crossing out christ. Christmas is about Jesus Christ, and that is why Christmas is called hristmas, not Xmas

    • Lou, are you saying that Christians in the 1600s were doing away with Christ by writing “Xmas”? You are right in saying the word is CALLED “Christmas.” But the word may be SPELLED “Xmas.”

      • @Paidion: I agree with you! I think Lou doesn’t have any idea that the New Testament was written in Greek. Lol

        • Riiight. Just because someone, say, German says the word “Christmas” (and it then no longer is said “Christmas”) it doesn’t mean they are crossing out Christ.

    • You didn’t RTFA, did you?

  • Jose Armin Gabuan Maningo

    Your’re all saying that it’s all because of the Greek representation, symbol, history and what not..

    but the question is, are we conversing in Greek? are we greet each other in Greek?
    or are we conversing using an old symbol? No of course.. we use English folks!

    “merry” is english not Greek, so if you add a word after that it must be english of course.
    meaning, “Merry Xmas” must be interpreted in english-way, and it means eliminating Christ.

    if you still insist on using “xmas”, and expect it to be read as “Christmas”, wait until we all talk, read, and write in Greek.

    • You completely and utterly forget how much of our language comes from Ancient Greek. Your ignorance regarding linguistics, etymology, and history does not take the “Christ” out of “X-Mas” it merely just showcases your own intellectual failings.
      Beyond that you would be surprised how much of the English language comes directly from other languages. If you want to keep with this narrow minded logic that you can only use words and letters of an English origin, you are going to find that you have very little to say. You are going to have to cut your vocabulary in half (if not more), stop using the letters “Y” and “Z” (they are after all Ancient Greek) and stop using the numeral based number system as it is from Arabic. Language is a constantly evolving thing and is highly influenced by geography, trade, conquest, and interaction. Very few languages are perfectly and pristinely uninfluenced by others and is that not what makes language beautiful?

      • This is not the point. The whole problem is that nobody knows this. If everyone knew, “Oh, hey, the X in Xmas is a greek symbol for Christ!”, then I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But when even pastors and religious people don’t know it, it might as well be a blotting out of Christ’s name. Otherwise Christians like me assume that it IS in fact a blotting out, and non-Christians/religious people like me assume it is just X and aren’t really sure what Christmas actually means as a word.

    • Love your comment !!! I think it negates the proceeding and afore mentioned comments beautifully!!! I believe in Jesus Christ and I know that Satan and his demons are wreaking havoc wherever and whenever they may by distorting and altering people, places, things and especially language which is our communication, our conveying meaning and wisdom.