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Posted by R. Berg on November 16, 2001

In Reply to: X-mas posted by Ryan on November 16, 2001

: I know it's a defamation of christ's name, but when did it come about and why?

From the entry for the letter X in the Oxford English Dictionary:
"In writing the name CHRIST, esp. in abbreviated form, X or x represents the first letter . . . of Greek "khristos," and XP or xp the first two letters [chi rho] . . . . Hence in early times Xp, in modern times Xt . . . and X, are used as abbreviationsof the syllable "Christ," alone or in derivatives; thus [obsolete] Xpen = CHRISTEN . . . [obsolete] Xtianity = CHRISTIANITY . . ."

(I've left out some abbreviated forms using characters not on my keyboard.) The earliest quotations given for these abbreviations or contracted forms come from about the year 1000. So "Xmas" doesn't seem to be a defamation; it's just a shortened form based on the initial of "Christ" in Greek, and it has a long history.