Questions We Wonder about Christmas
You may have wondered about these things. You may even be asked about them. We were wondering…
1. Where did the word “Christmas” come from, and what does it mean?
The end of the word (“mass”) in English is “missa”in Latin, a form of the verb “mittere” which means “to send.” Thus Christmas is literally “Christ is sent” or “the sending of Christ”
2. Is the use of “Xmas” a secularizing or absenting of Christ from Christmas?
This abbreviation of Christmas actually dates back to the first century church. It is not sourced in our letter “x” but rather the Greek letter X (chi) which is the first letter in Xristos (Christ). Hence it was used initially as an abbreviation for the Messiah (like your own initials). Of course, today many may use it with the letter “x” to avoid identifying Christmas with Jesus, when in fact the opposite is true.
3. Are Christians really guilty of celebrating a pagan holiday (as skeptics allege) by observing Jesus’ birth on December 25?
The pagan holiday Saturnalia, for the Greek god Saturn, was celebrated from about December 17-23. We do not know the exact date of Jesus’ birth, but whether it happened to occur at a similar time as a pagan holiday is irrelevant. Christians do not “worship” a pagan holiday or any holiday. We take time to “remember” the birth of Christ, God become flesh, on that day.