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Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Christmas, Secularism | 4 comments

Putting the X back in Xmas

 

Many Christians complain about the shortening of Christmas to Xmas.  Most people don’t seem to know that the “X” is not a capital “x”, but a capital “χ”, or Chi, the Greek letter that begins the word χριστοϛ, or Christos.  So, Xmas is not “crossing out Christ” or “removing Christ from Christmas”, as many would have you believe.  There’s even a Wikipedia page that deals with this myth.

It raises some interesting questions, though.  Should secular people want to remove Christ from Christmas?  Or should they forgo the celebration of Christmas altogether?

I would answer No to both questions.  Culture is a complex thing.  Many an everyday event has its roots in some kind of religious or superstitious past.  I see no need to pretend Christmas has nothing to do with Christianity, and the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  I won’t be hiding that fact from my son when he is old enough to ask questions.  But nor will I be hiding from him the fact that Winter Solstice was celebrated on December 25 (or thereabouts) for thousands of years before Christianity came along, and that many of the elements involved in the celebration of Christmas (and Easter) stem from pagan traditions.  Loads of things we take for granted have pagan backgrounds.  Just for one more example, apart from our own, all the planets of our solar system were named after Greek/Roman gods (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, even Pluto, whether it qualifies as a planet or not).

So sure, let’s put the X back in Xmas.  But let’s also put the Thor back in Thursday.

orkney winter solstice

  • kraut2

    why take a pefectly decent party like the saturnalia and make it into some dull family thingy?

    “Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honor of the deity Saturn held on December 17 of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through December 23. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves.[1] The poet Catullus called it “the best of days.”[2]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia

    as to the Xmas tree: stolen from us Canucks

    “The tradition was introduced to Canada in the winter of 1781 by Brunswick soldiers stationed in the Province of Quebec to garrison the colony against American attack. General Friedrich Adolf Riedesel and his wife, the Baroness von Riedesel, held a Christmas party at Sorel, delighting their guests with a fir tree decorated with candles and fruits.[39]
    A woodcut of the British Royal family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle, initially published in The Illustrated London News December 1848, was copied in the United States at Christmas 1850, in Godey’s Lady’s Book. Godey’scopied it exactly, except for the removal of the Queen’s tiara and Prince Albert’s moustache, to remake the engraving into an American scene.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_tree

  • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

    “Should secular people want to remove Christ from Christmas? Or should they forgo the celebration of Christmas altogether?”

    I’m content to leave it up to each secular individual to decide what, if anything, to do regarding Christmas. I have no desire to remove Christ from Christmas; it is fine with me if people want to celebrate that aspect of the holiday. I also have no desire to celebrate Christmas. It holds no appeal for me, and I’d prefer to celebrate things that hold meaning for me. But again, if others enjoy it or find it meaningful for whatever reason, I hope they have fun with it.

    • http://www.skepticink.com/reasonablyfaithless Reasonably Faithless

      Completely agree. While I don’t think secular people *should* want to do either, I also don’t have any issue with secular people who want to do either.

  • Nerdsamwich

    While we’re putting the Christ back in Christmas, let’s also put back Mithros, Sol Invictus, Horus, and Cernunnos.