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Dec 12 2012   1:38AM GMT

Christmas vs. Xmas

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
There are a lot of holidays in December, not just ______ but also Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Lunar New Year, Santa Lucia Day and sometimes Ramadan.
a. Xmas
b. Christmas

Answer: b

Most style guides discourage the use of Xmas, probably because many people find it offensive.

In fact, Xmas is a variation on Christmas that has deep roots. From Wikipedia:

 Early use of “Xmas” includes Bernard Ward’s History of St. Edmund’s college, Old Hall (originally published circa 1755).[9] An earlier version, “X’temmas”, dates to 1551.[9] Around 1100 the term was written as “Xp̄es mæsse” in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.[2] “Xmas” is found in a letter from George Woodward in 1753.[10] Lord Byron used the term in 1811,[11] as did Samuel Coleridge (1801)[5] and Lewis Carroll (1864).[11]

Many Christians object to Xmas because they believe it removes Christ’s name from the word. However,  According to the OED, the use of the letter X to refer to Christ goes back to 1485.

In any case, however, let’s maintain the peace this season by refraining from using Xmas.


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