Christmas or Xmas?

Christmas is also sometimes known as Xmas. Some people don't think it's correct to call Christmas 'Xmas' as that takes the 'Christ' (Jesus) out of Christmas. (Christmas comes from Christ-Mass, the Church service that celebrated the birth of Jesus.) But that isn't right!

In the Greek language and alphabet, the letter that looks like an X is the Greek letter chi / Χ (pronounced 'khee' rhymes with 'key' or 'kye' rhymes with 'eye') which is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ, Christos (χριστός), which means 'the anointed one' or 'the chosen one'. Jesus is sometimes called the Christ, Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus or just Christ by Christians (people who follow Christ or Jesus) as a way of recognising that they believe Jesus is God's son. (Christos is the Greek version of the Hebrew word 'Messiah' (מָשִׁיחַ), which is another name/title used for Jesus by Christians.)

The early Christian church used the first two letters of Christos in the Greek alphabet 'chi' and 'rho' to create a monogram (symbol) to represent the name of Jesus. This looks like an X with a small p on the top: ☧

Another use of X to mean Jesus/Christ comes from the symbol of a fish which is sometimes used by Christians (you might see a fish sticker on a car or someone wearing a little fish badge/pin). This comes from the time when the first Christians had to meet in secret, as the Romans wanted to kill them (before Emperor Constantine became a Christian). Jesus had said that he wanted to make his followers 'Fishers of Men', so his followers started to use that symbol.

When two Christians met, one person drew half a basic fish shape (often using their foot in the dust on the ground) and the other person drew the other half of the fish. The Greek word for fish is 'Ikthus' or 'Ichthys'. There are five Greek letters in the word. It can also make up a sentence of Christian beliefs 'Ie-sous Christos Theou Huios So-te-r' which in English means "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour". The second letter of these five letter is X or Christos!

Monks and other early Christian writers also used X as a 'shorthand' for Jesus or Christ in documents, as the words Jesus or Christ were used quite a lot. Using X instead of Jesus or Christ saved them a lot of time and ink.

So X has been used to mean Jesus/Christ for over 1000 years; and it's also completely fine to use Xmas to mean Christmas; but it should still be pronounced 'Christmas' rather than 'ex-mas'!