For years I’ve had folks who know no better chide me for writing “Xmas” with the “X is an unknown quantity, and Christ is not unknown!” fallacy.
Fallacy? Yes, on at least two counts. The first and most obvious is that Christ is almost unknown. If one even asks the common man-on-the-street kinds of questions of average folks, attempting to discover if those folks even know the basic facts of the life of Christ, it’s easy to determine that the historical Jesus is largely unknown. When asked even further what his message was/is and what the import of his life was/is, his unknown-ness becomes even more glaring. Heck, the very fact that such abominations as “Touched by an Angel,” “Highway To Heaven” and “7th Heaven” were viewed by so many who think of themselves as Christians as “Christian” in theme or subject matter ought to demonstrate to any literate person (let alone someone who calls themselves a believer in Christ) that Jesus is largely unknown.
But then there’s also the “X is an unknown quantity” part of the objection. Simple illiteracy, my friends, because “Xmas” has been long used–as long as ‘Christmas” has been–in referring to a celebration of the birth of Jesus, the Christ for a reason that is far, far from the “unknown quantity” canard. Why so? Because it’s not an “X” (as we find in latinized European alphabets) but a “chi”–the Greek letter that sounds out as the “Ch” in “Christ.” And so, since even before the existence of the word “Christmas,” the “chi” has been used to stand in acronyms, acrostics and other constructions for “Christ”. (In fact, it was used thus in the earliest known “Christian fish” symbols, which was constructed from the first letters–Greel alphabet–in the words of the phrase, “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior”).
So, have a blessed Xmas.