I did some checking this year into some of the legends and traditions of Christmas.  I was surprised by a lot of what I found.  But aside from that there have been these ideas popping up in my head each year and I will try to get them in focus and write  them down now while Christmas is still in the air. 

I've heard the stories about the efforts of some, and quite successfully I might add, to remove anything to do with Christ from Christmas--taking away Nativity scenes from public buildings, schools, etc., calling the school break "Winter" break instead of Christmas break, and various other rumors, as well as taking the name of Christ out of Christmas and leaving us with Xmas.  It's interesting that in algebra "X" is the "missing" component, and that is really correct for the world.  Christ is the missing component in Christmas and in their lives. (If you read the comments below, I do know 'X' was the Greek word 'Chi' for Christ.  But most people don't know that, and it isn't the point of my writing.)

On the other end of it, I've heard some christians make comments about Christmas being a pagan holiday (which the info I've found states that it originally was a celebration of St. Nick on December 6th, but then Martin Luther changed that.  To take the emphasis off of St. Nick, the day was  changed to December 25, and they began celebrating Christ's birth instead.)  So what is the big deal?  We have people who celebrate Hanukah, some Solstice, and who knows what else.  We have holidays for people like Martin Luther King, Lincoln, Washington, St. Patrick and no one takes offense or makes an issue of using the persons name in our schools or anywhere else in reference to the holiday.  And if there were songs written about any of these men, I'm sure we wouldn't have to change their name to something more politically correct.  So why the big fuss over Jesus' birthday. 

You may say, it's because not everyone believes in Jesus or his teachings.  Okay!  Even the biggest skeptics would probably not bother trying to convince you there was not even a man named Jesus born in Bethlehem.  And not everyone believes in the teachings of Martin Luther King either.  Not everyone even believes the teaching and the changes brought about by Lincoln.  So why don't we stop calling their  birthdays by their name and instead of celebrating Martin Luther King day, we could call it "X"day.  And instead of bringing out the clips of his speeches and the memories of what he accomplished and tried to do during his all-to-short life, let's find some other tradition to replace that so there will be no connection with him.  Doesn't that seem kind of silly.  And to make this even more absurd, I could point out that not everyone believes in Santa either.  But I don't hear anyone complaining about taking songs about him, or Rudolf the Red-nose Reindeer, or Frosty the Snowman out of our schools and books and traditions.

My remedy:  Let people do what they want.  What's the big deal?  Our children won't be corrupted by seeing a nativity scene, or hearing "Away in a Manger" for goodness sake.  And we can handle the songs about Santa and all the rest, and the commercialism, and everything else that comes along with this big controversial holiday.  Jesus and Santa have coexisted in our country, and throughout the world for hundreds of years and no one is the worse for it.  It's time we all lighten up.  Let's remember the spirit of Christmas--celebrating the  life of a man who came to offer us a new and better  life, or celebrating a man who liked to give material gifts to children who didn't have much.  It's a time to give love and care to our loved ones and to those in need.  It's a time to bring some light and cheer into our lives during the months when our short days and weather can make us blue.  It's a time to forget ourselves for awhile and think of others.

From Our Readers:

I really enjoyed your article on X-mas vs. Christmas. I had heard that the "x" was the removal of Christ in the word. I wasn't sure if that was true, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to take an extra second out of my time to make sure to write Christ. I think giving gift to our children and letting them enjoy the season does not hurt either. We just need to be good parents and talk to our children about our beliefs, whatever religion we might be. Everyone can admit that people are more forgiving, loving, and full of charity for one another during the holiday season. This is a base to set our standards by. Hopefully one day, these wonderful "gifts" can be year round. Merry Christmas! Wendie

I just thought I'd note that I'm seeing references on the web which state that spelling Christmas "Xmas" is a tradition which started in the early christian church, replacing the name of Christ with the greek letter Chi, which was a commonly acceptable form  of shortening the name of Christ, 'Khristos'.

Indeed, my American Heritage English Dictionary backs up this etymology, showing that lineage but saying:

"Usage Note: The abbreviation Xmas has been used for hundreds of years. In modern use it is considered informal and appropriate only in such commercial contexts as advertisements and signs."

Just thought I'd point out that the X in Xmas is not (unlike other efforts) an attempt to remove religion from daily life. Gavin Kistner 


As I understand, from a course entitled "History of the Bible," the term X-mas actually originated over one thousand years ago.  X is the Greek letter "chi", which is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ.  It was considered a blasphemy to spell His name, hence the abbreviation.  Bill Winn

*I realize "x" is Greek for Christ, however most people who are not Christians (and even many Christians) would not know that.  I only know because I worked for pastors and also taught Bible classes.  The question is, not that they use the x, but what the reason behind it is. 

I am a Catholic who is annoyed that the Christmas season is about running around and buying presents. I agree with you that it is no big deal.  If someone doesn't believe in Christ that is his or her own business. The opposition comes because it's Satan and his followers that want to talk Christ out of Christmas, and that is when it becomes such an important issue. If we forget Christ, it is easy for Satan to take control. So we must remember Christ and like you said Saint Nicholas who gave to children who didn't have much (like Jesus did).   Emerald

While I do consider the commercialization of Christmas to be extreme and in some ways also obscene, I also understand that were we to cease with the celebration a similar occasion would be found to fill the shop coffers.

I have undertaken to separate Christmas from Xmas.  Christmas is the celebration of the birth and life Jesus, while Xmas refers to the horrible tacky, obscene rummage sale associated with Macey's Santa Clause.

I personally prefer to celebrate the first and as much as possible avoid the second.  Others have an opposite point of view.  While I consider them to be living in denial, I will respect there choice of heresy.  Todd A McKenzie