Why Christmas Becomes Xmas

The “X” in the short form of Christmas is not the letter x. It is the first letter of “Christ” in Greek, the letter “chi,” which looks like an x but is pronounced /kai/( rhymes with “sky”).

The second letter in the Greek word for “Christ” looks like a capital p but is pronounced “roh.” The first two letters together form the “Chi-roh,” which looks like a capital x with a capital p on top:

The Chi-roh has been used for over 1,500 years as a symbol of Christ. It can be seen here in the central part of the Hinton Saint Mary Mosaic, a representation of Jesus Christ that was found in England and has been dated to the early 4th century:

 

Hinton Saint Mary Mosaic – central roundel (early 4th century), British Museum, London – Photo by J Miall

Hinton Saint Mary Mosaic (early 4th century), British Museum, London – Photo from britishmuseum.org

 

Simply put, “XP / Chi-roh” or “X / Chi” are the initials of the word “Christ” in Greek, and that’s why Christmas becomes Xmas.

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