Xmas is a common abbreviation of the word Christmas . The “-mas” part is from the Latin-derived Old English word for Mass, while the “X” comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός which comes into English as “Christ”.
There is a common misconception that the word Xmas stems from a secular attempt to remove the religious tradition from Christmas by taking the “Christ” out of “Christmas”, but its use dates back to the 16th century.
So if X is a letter used in the Grek word for Christ, where else do we find X used to instead of “Christ”?
The word “Christ” and its compounds, including “Christmas”, have been abbreviated in English for at least the past 1,000 years, long before the modern “Xmas” was commonly used. “Christ” was often written as “Xρ” or “Xt”; there are references in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as far back as 1021. This X and P arose as the uppercase forms of the Greek letters χ (Ch) and ρ (R) used in ancient abbreviations for Χριστος (Greek for “Christ”), and are still widely seen in many Eastern Orthodox icons depicting Jesus Christ. The labarum, an amalgamation of the two Greek letters rendered as ☧, is a symbol often used to represent Christ in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian Churches.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and the OED Supplement have cited usages of “X-” or “Xp-” for “Christ-” as early as 1485. The terms “Xtian” and less commonly “Xpian” have also been used for “Christian”. The OED further cites usage of “Xtianity” for “Christianity” from 1634. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, most of the evidence for these words comes from “educated Englishmen who knew their Greek”.
In ancient Christian art, χ and χρ are abbreviations for Christ’s name. In many manuscripts of the New Testament and icons, Χ is an abbreviation for Χριστος, as is XC (the first and last letters in Greek, using the lunate sigma); compare IC for Jesus in Greek.
Other proper names containing the name “Christ” besides those mentioned above are sometimes abbreviated similarly, either as “X” or “Xt”, both of which have been used historically, e.g., “Xtopher” or “Xopher” for “Christopher”, or “Xtina” or “Xina” for the name “Christina”.
So all we ask, before jumping up and trying to correct people when they refer to Christmas as Xmas, make sure you know where it comes from as there is nothing disingenuous about it. It’s been around for a very long time and Churches all over the world use it in their symbols.
We are not historians but managed to find the above information online and the most comprehensive was on Wikipedia. If you would like to read more click here.