Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Xmas, Everyone!

"Xmas???" you ask in disbelief. Isn't that disrespectful to our Lord? Shouldn't we say (and write) "Christmas" instead, to avoid the world's effort to "X out" Christ from this over-commercialized holiday?

My father-in-law, one of the most truly-dedicated Christians I've ever known, abhors the term, and I must admit I'm not comfortable with using it myself. However, I learned a couple years ago that the "X" is actually a reference to Christ's name in ancient Greek! In fact, this article from HowStuffWorks enlightens Christians with some very interesting facts about this oft-maligned term:
  • "X" is not English or Latin, but the Greek letter chi. It is pronounced "kai", as in "kaiser".
  • The illustration above (copied from the article) is the Greek symbol "chi-rho", an amalgamation of the Greek letters chi and rho (pronounced "row"), which represent the Greek word "Christos", which means "Christ".
  • "Xmas" dates back to 15th century Europe, as a reverent abbreviation of "Christmas."
  • Other variations of the term can be traced as far back as the year 1021.

Now on the other hand, we are to avoid even the semblance of evil. Just as words found in the King James Bible are now considered profanity, we should avoid the use of "Xmas", if we feel it would offend other Christians in our presence. However, we should also make an effort to set the record straight, in the pursuit of truth and peace.

And before you ask, the name of Egypt's capital, Cairo, has nothing to do with Christ or Greek, but is derived from Arabic.

Merry Christmas, everyone! And have a joyous Advent Season!


jeleasure said...

Hold your horses with that, Farrah!
the Chi and Ro are Greek letters. And, I understand your illustration. Just as x is used for Christmas, the chi ro was used for Christ. This much you have understood. What most people and most Catholics do not know, is the disc with the Chi and Ro you have pictured here, is a symbol of the Catholic Church's memory of Constantine.
Constantine was waging war with Dioclecian for complete control over the Roman Empire. He saw a disc in the sky and some words in latin beneath it. The Chi and Ro were centered on the disc. The words said something like "by this you shall conquer". I don't have a problem with that, either. But, here is where much of the Pagan stuff we use in our current celebrations of Christmas come to us. Constantine had all of his Soldiers baptised. He told them they could still keep their gods. But, they must recognize Jesus.
Constantine's mother was a Christian. Some say Constantine became a Christian on his death bed. Constantine actually set himself up as a Pope.

Greg said...

Hi, Jim. Thank you for the historical background. Your comment sounded a little argumentative, but I don't think you were contesting anything I wrote in my post.

The accuracy of the accounts of Constantine's life is certainly in question, especially the degree to which he lived as a Christian. But his life and the Catholic church's treatment of it are two separate things.

From what I've read, Constantine's greatest contribution to Christianity is that he reversed Diocletian's persecution of Christians. As to what degree the chi-rho played a role, will never be known, except that the symbol far preceeded him. It is also likely that he mingled the common polytheistic beliefs of the time with those of Christianity, as is not unlike what modern people do today.

I do not know if the Catholics use the chi-rho to refer to Constantine. My article wasn't trying to suggest using this symbol, or even the term "Xmas", today; only giving some background. But a symbol is not necessarily evil just because some groups misuse it.

Farrah said...

Hold my horses?? Whoa there! I didn't write this post! Greg did!! Lol! :-)

jeleasure said...

Something I read here gave me the impression it was Farrah's new blog. Something in the side bar. I don't know.
Where I grew up, in Pittsburgh, Pa., the Chi Ro was everywhere. The interesting thing is, today, the very same church building that displayed it in literature and on the front doors, in stained glass, ...etc. do not use it anymore. After Vatican II, the Catholic Church began to move toward modern society and somewhat acknowledge Martin Luther's 95 thesis points.
I don't understand what you are saying by what degree the chi ro played in reversing persecution will never be known. The Catholic Church knows. That was something Catholics from my Polish/Italian community were proud of.
And, no, I am not being argumenative. I was actually surprised a Protestant Christian would display a Chi ro on his page. Did not think you did all of your home work.

jeleasure said...

When I said, "The Catholic Church knows", I was saying the administrative offices know. The Catholic parrishoner is not likely to know the history behind the Chi Ro.
Did not know if I was clear on that. I wrote the comment and 4 a.m..

Greg said...

No prob, Jim. A couple days ago was the first time I even saw the symbol, and neither of the sources I found mentioned any ties to Catholicism. That said, much of what the Catholic church "knows" is tradition, either un-Biblical or at best without reliable historical reference. The whole idea of "Papal succession" is one such example. And until recently, I had a very negative view of Communion, simply because the Catholics are so big on it.

jeleasure said...

well, you know the Catholics believe the bread becomes real flesh and the wine becomes real blood. They call it Transsubstantiation.

Tamela's Place said...

Very Interesting Greg.. Now i know.. thanks for sharing that.. It's good to be able to set the record straight.

You and your family have a very happy new year.. May God bless you

Tamela :)

jeleasure said...

Your milking this one too. This is especially bad. Pagan symbolism, on Gregs page!