Keeping Christ in Xmas

Keeping Christ in Xmas

By Shirley R. Heater

     Xmas in place of Christmas is seen as keeping Christ out of Christmas[1] by substituting an “X” for Christ. But maybe there is more to it than meets the eye!

     During the 2014 holiday season, I was reading the Scriptures with a musical channel on TV softly playing Christmas music in the background. As I paused to think about what I was reading, I casually looked up at the TV screen just in time to see a note that said something like this: “The X in Xmas is the Greek letter chi which means “Christ” or “cross.” (Chi is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ and is sometimes used alone.) I was riveted by this, being aware of chi in chiasmus, a style of writing a statement and repeating it in reverse order, which may be diagrammed in the form an X. This writing pattern has been identified in both the New and Old Testaments and, more recently, in The Book of Mormon. The letter for X (or cross) in the Hebrew is tau, also rendered as taw or tav (depicted as “X”, “t” and also “T”) all of which mean cross!

     Tau is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The earliest form (c. 1700 BC in early Semitic/Akkadian) appeared as a vertical cross, and later as an X. The letter also means “mark” as well as cross. Aaron is anointed with the “mark of God” on his forehead, as a type of the “anointed one”—the Messiah (Exodus 28:36-38 and Leviticus 8:9, 12). It is also considered as the mark over the doorposts in Egypt so the destroyer would pass them by (Exodus 12:23).

     Jacob in The Book of Mormon reveals some additional insight. He indicates that the Jews were a stiff-necked people who rejected the Stone (the Messiah) and were given “many things they could not understand” because they looked beyond the “mark” (the cross). (Jacob 3:22-27 RLDS) [Jacob 4:14-16 LDS]

     The letters “T” and “X” are widely used in numerous alphabets even today. The symbols are perhaps the oldest in the world, some scratched on ancient stones.[2] They are found worldwide in various forms in ancient civilizations such as Egyptian, Babylonian, Phoenician, American Indian and the Maya. In Maya the tau symbol is represented in hieroglyphs, structures and iconography. The glyph IK is the day sign which carries a meaning of “wind” and is associated with Spiritual Breath, Inspiration, Purifier of the Body, symbolizing cleanliness and purity. A wall of “House C” at Palenque shows the T-shaped opening representing the wind.[3] Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered or Plumed Serpent, rules this day sign associating his depiction as the God of the Wind with the IK glyph on his pectoral (breast), while other Maya figures are shown holding a T-shaped-cross, a symbol of the breath of life itself.[4] It is also associated with the Tree of Life.

     What began for me with the curiosity of chi as the X in Xmas, led me on an interesting journey of discovery and a better understanding of how God has revealed Himself, even in the chi and tau characters or symbols. So as we consider the birth of our Savior, our understanding is enriched to realize He cannot be hidden by any attempt to diminish His presence—even in the letter X in Xmas!

[1] This discussion does not consider the time of Christ’s birth—whether spring, fall or December. Remember also that “holiday” actually means “holy day.”


Heater, Shirley