Keep the X in Xmas

This week on Facebook, I’ve posted several provocative graphics — funny visual puns that lead up to …what? Today was the Big Reveal: the point.

Let’s start with the visual puns.

The whole series was spurred by this meme, which I found on social media:

Keep the Han [Solo from Star Wars] in Hanukkah. (All of these can be clicked to see larger.)

I loved it, and it got a great response when I posted it to Facebook. I made several more on the theme:

Keep the [Olympic skater Michelle] Kwan in Kwanzaa.

Keep [Ken Curtis Gunsmoke character] Festus in Festivus (which indeed pre-dates Seinfeld).

Keep the [actor] Yul [Brynner] in Yuletide.

Keep Saturn in Saturnalia.

The Theme

They are all, of course, winter festivals (click on any festival name for details if you don’t know what it is).

The capper? It was (as you may have predicted from the title of this entry) all simply to make this point about the most commercially successful winter festival of them all:

Keep the X in Xmas.

If you can’t read the graphic, here’s what it says:

The Xmas Whine:

“I am sick and tired of every year when Christmas comes around, there are people who want to take Christ out of Christmas. Really: xmas? XMAS?! If you aren’t celebrating Christ then why are you celebrating? Leave my holiday alone!! It’s spelled Christmas, not xmas! Repost if your [sic] not ashamed.”

The Xmas Truth:

The X in “Xmas” isn’t the English letter X, it is the Greek letter X (Chi), the first letter of the word “Christos”, the Greek word for Messiah (“the anointed one”). Thus by no means does Xmas “leave Christ out of Christmas,” and to argue it does shows gross ignorance of one’s own purported faith.

Christians chose December 25th to celebrate because that was already a Pagan holiday (Christ was not born in the dead of Winter), so it’s not “your” holiday. People happily celebrate the day, Christian or not, because we love our friends and families, and appreciate the tradition whether it’s sacred or secular. (Repost if the truth is more important to you than ignorant hysteria.)

Keep the X in Xmas!

The Starting Quote in that one, by the way, is a verbatim post I saw last year on Facebook (though I switched the various ALL CAPS bits to bold.)

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So if you are also tired of sanctimonious people lecturing you — and getting it all wrong in their ignorant self-righteousness — feel free to link to this page. The shortcut is

Context: a 'War on Christmas'?
There’s no “War on Christmas” signified by a preference to say “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas”: there are many holidays held in December, and actual Christians acknowledge that rather than be jerks to others. Here are just a few examples:

  1. Advent (Christian): four Sundays preceding Christmas Day.
  2. Saint Barbara’s Day (Christian): 4 December — The Feast of St. Barbara is celebrated by Artillery regiments across the Commonwealth and some western Catholic countries.
  3. Krampusnacht (Christian): 5 December — The Feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated in parts of Europe on 6 December. In Alpine countries, Saint Nicholas has a devilish companion named Krampus who punishes the bad children the night before.
  4. Saint Nicholas’ Day (Christian): 6 December — the feast day of Nicholas of Myra to celebrate his reputation as a bringer of gifts.
  5. Feast of the Immaculate Conception Day (Christian): 8 December — celebrated as a public holiday by many Catholics.
  6. Rōhatsu/Bodhi Day (Buddhist): 8 December — Day of Enlightenment, celebrating the day that Buddha experienced enlightenment (or “Bodhi”).
  7. Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Christian): 12 December — primarily Catholic holiday that honors the reported appearance of the Virgin Mary in Mexico City.
  8. Saint Lucia’s Day (Christian): 13 December — Church Feast Day. Saint Lucia comes as a young woman with lights and sweets.
  9. Las Posadas (Christian): 16–24 December — procession to various family lodgings for celebration & prayer and to re-enact Mary & Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
  10. Posadas Navidenas (Christian): 17 December – primarily Hispanic Christian holiday to celebrate Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus.
  11. Nikoljdan (Christian): 19 December – the most common day in the Serbian Orthodox Christian tradition of the ritual glorification of one’s family’s patron saint, aka St. Nicholas’s feast day.
  12. Longest Night (Christian): 20 December – a modern Christian service to help those coping with loss, usually held on the eve of the winter solstice.
  13. Yalda (Persian): 21 December — The turning point, winter solstice.
  14. Soyal (Zuni and Hopi): 21 December — winter solstice ceremony to call on the sun to warm the earth.
  15. Solstice (Secular): 21 December — the shortest day of the year.
  16. Pancha Ganapati (Hindu): 21 through 25 December — festival celebrated in honor of Ganesha.
  17. HumanLight (Humanist): 23 December — celebration of “a Humanist’s vision of a good future.”
  18. Christmas Eve (Christian): 24 December — In many countries e.g. the German speaking countries, but also in Poland, Hungary and the Nordic countries, gift giving is on 24 December.
  19. Christmas Day (Christian): 25 December — the celebration of the date of Jesus’s birth, though it is not known what month or day he was born. Early Christians chose this date to coincide with pagan winter celebrations.
  20. Newtonmas (Atheist/Agnostic): 25 December — Isaac Newton’s birthday.
  21. Anastasia of Sirmium feast day (Christian): 25 December.
  22. Twelve Days of Christmas (Christian): 25 December–6 January.
  23. Boxing Day (Christian): 26 December.
  24. Zarathosht Diso (Zoroastrian): 26 December – honors the death of the prophet Zarathustra, who founded Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions.
  25. Kwanzaa (Pan-African): 26 December–1 January — culminating in a communal feast, Karamu.
  26. Saint Stephen’s Day (Christian): 26 December — In Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Ireland a holiday celebrated as Second Day of Christmas.
  27. Saint John the Evangelist’s Day (Christian): 27 December
  28. Holy Innocents’ Day (Christian): 28 December – honors the deaths of children killed by King Herod, who was attempting to kill Jesus.
  29. Feast of the Holy Family (Christian): 30 December – Catholic to honor Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
  30. Saint Sylvester’s Day (Christian): 31 December
  31. Ōmisoka (Japanese): 31 December — traditional celebration of the last day of the year.

Plus others which are celebrated during this time on variable dates, including:

  1. Hanukkah (Jewish): usually falls between late November and early January.
  2. Yule (Pagan): winter festival celebrated by the historical Germanic people from late December to early January.
  3. Koliada (Slavic): winter festival celebrated in late December with singers who visit houses and receive gifts.
  4. Dongzhi Festival (East Asian): — a celebration of winter solstice on or around December 22.
  5. Chalica (Unitarian): for 7 days starting the first Monday of December, the day’s principle is read and enacted.
  6. Holiday (Pastafarian): held near Christmas to celebrate the season.

And hey: Merry Christmas — or whatever festival you like to celebrate!

Added by Request

Keep [Princess] Di in Diwali.

Keep the Sol in Solstice. (The sun, imaged by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.)

Keep Humanity in HumanLight.

and, last,

Keep the [Billie] Holiday in Happy Holidays.

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76 Comments on “Keep the X in Xmas

  1. I am still waiting for “Keep the Di in Diwali” — I wanted to see how many people would get more upset if you used a picture of Princess Diana than they did about the fact that religious observances were being referenced. As a practicing Jew, I have spent years explaining exactly what you explained above.

  2. And let us not forget the generic “Happy Holidays!” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first entry for “holiday” is “A consecrated day, a religious festival. Now usually written holy-day n., q.v”. So what’s wrong with wishing somebody a happy sacred day?

  3. This goes along with all the people who complain about hearing “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. What about those of other religions who celebrate events at this time of year? Hanukkah/Chanukah (take your pick) is going on right now.

  4. Thank you for the illumination. I always thought that the X in X-mas represented a cross. Now I know better. 🙂

  5. I am a Christian and I say “Merry Christmas” as a greeting. I don’t use it to slight anyone nor do I take it as an insult when I’m greeted with “Happy Hanukkah”. I’m glad that there are people who wish to acknowledge my existance. I believe there are very few people who object. To those who do… Tough Noogies %)

    • There’s nothing wrong with wishing people a merry Christmas. It’s going the next step and telling other folks they cannot say anything other than merry Christmas that goes too far.

  6. Tom, As I mentioned, I am Jewish. That means that when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, they are telling me to enjoy myself on December 25. If I had an issue with that, I would have to also get upset every time someone said good morning or good night. Of course, since I work in a large company, I am supposed to be politically correct. I therefore try to make sure that I have just the right amount of sarcasm in my voice when I wish people a “very merry December 25”.

  7. when i was in grade (parochial) school, at least two of our teachers, foreign-born dominicans, taught us, early, often, and vehemently that “xmas” was a modern shorthand.

    Well, if they think “modern” means merely hundreds of years of usage, I suppose they’re right. -rc

  8. If you really want to frost some short-sighted zealot’s shorts, tell’em to “Keep Christ in Xmas…”, then show them the Chi-Rho or Christogram — Jesus’ “monogram” used as a symbol by many Christian churches. Happy Holidays — ALL of them!

  9. Thanks for spreading the news. I researched the origins of the word Xmas about 20 years ago, so I could enlighten those around me anytime it came up. I learned one thing I hadn’t realized previously: Xmas is properly pronounced “Christmas”. It is no more appropriate to say “exmas” than it is to say “awz” when you see the abbreviation “oz”. You say “ounce”.

    Likewise, Xn is an abbreviation for, and is pronounced, Christian, and ditto for Xnty and Christianity.

    In churches I have sometimes seen the chi letter combined with the rho letter, superimposing the X and the P over each other to form a symbol representing Christ.

    There’s more information on this topic in the book, The Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories.

    Actually, I do pronounce Oz “awz” — when speaking of Australia! But yes, I agree with you. -rc

  10. My wife Bonnie has a friend who renamed the 25th “$h1t-Mass” because that is the impetus for driving the masses to purchase $h1t. This, of course, ties in to the post WW2 campaign to get America to buy/consume to build the economy back to some antediluvian level of plenty — the ’20s? Would like to see some debate on this. (Might Victor Lebow have been a driving force behind the “Mad Men” concept?)

    I like the way Bonnie shows her disgust. -rc

  11. I am one who intends to be at my church’s Christmas Eve candlelight service, but I will cheerfully wish my non-Christian friends a happy holiday on their specific December holy time. (It’s still a Happy Hanukkah for Hyman above, heh.)

    Actually, a lot of my online friends are of various pagan varieties and levels of observance, so I’ll be wishing folks a Happy Winter Solstice shortly. (Well, this year, make that a Happy Mayan New Era or a Happy Apocalypse.)

    I also have a cute compromise to dodge any sensitivities about wishing non-Christians a Merry Christmas. For Christmas, I wish them a Happy Pine Tree Day. For Easter, it’s Happy Egg Day. Most get the joke (pagan customs folded into Christian celebrations because some symbols are universal enough to fit in) and send warm holiday wishes right back.

    Sincere wishes delivered and received with a touch of humor go a long way toward avoiding culture-clash ruffled feathers. 😉

  12. I *love* the puns.

    Of all of the major holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc, only one has a pithy retort:

    Bah, Humbug!

    Halloween comes in a far second with “Trick or drink!” which is fairly festive. (The trick is to bring your own cup. Ah, college in a small town. Sigh.)

    So we need a national, nay *international*, effort to bring the rest of the holidays up to speed. Nothing against the reasons for the holidays and religious events, but we need something to beat down all of the commercialism in a friendly, grassroots kind of way.

    Well, “Bah, Humbug!” hasn’t worked very well to beat down the commercialism of Christmas…. -rc

  13. On the other hand, do you really think that the people writing Xmas are thinking, “Oh, I know! I’ll use the Greek letter Chi in here to indicate the Greek word Christos instead of using the more familiar word Christ!”?

    Not at all: I think they’re following hundreds of years of tradition. It’s only recently that ignorant people have started to insist that it’s some kind of insult. That, in turn, shows they don’t know the tenets of their own professed faith. So they’re preaching it at the top of their lungs …why? -rc

  14. I’ve known for a long time that the X in “Xmas” represents Chi, and therefore “Christos”. So “Xmas” doesn’t bother me, as a Christian. In fact, I use it sometimes. But complaining about it doesn’t show “gross ignorance of one’s own purported faith”. Not even slight ignorance. Neither Xmas nor Christmas are mentioned in the Bible, and are not part of “the faith that was… entrusted to the saints” (Epistle of Jude, verse 3). It just show ignorance of the origin of the “Xmas” abbreviation, that’s all.

    We disagree. -rc

  15. I postulate (and I’m not original about this) that those who complain about the “lack of Christ” in Xmas are hypocrites since there is nothing Christian in the massive expenditures on Xmas presents that they also indulge in. In fact, if they really wanted to celebrate gift-giving for Christmas, wouldn’t January 6th, the Day of the Kings, be more appropriate?

    It’s interesting that in Puritan England during the 17th century, it was law to keep Christmas solemn and quiet, not the bacchanalian orgy of money and excess that it’s now become. In fact, I believe I read that Massachusetts was one of the last states to remove laws of the same nature close to the 20th century.

    On the other hand, being the smartass that I am, when someone wishes me “a nice day,” my response is, “Don’t tell ME what kind of day to have!” The only difference is, the hypocrites are actually serious.

  16. Like Vicki, I discovered up a long time ago that ‘exmas’ is an incorrect pronunciation — it sounds like a skin disease — but it annoys me as a pedant, not as a Christian.

    When, by contrast, I first encountered terms which actually were chosen in order to be neutral, to “take the Christ out of Christmas” in a non-pejorative sense (I believe the example was ‘Winterval’), I didn’t think “these people are trying to denigrate my faith”, I thought “oh, that’s a good idea, people are trying to make clear that they’re talking about the secular, commercialised, materialistic activities that take place around this time of year, rather than any of the religious festivals.”

  17. Xmas, Yule, Wintertide, Solstice, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, atheism or agnosticism … These are all things which should be personal, held close to oneself.

    Too many have refused to keep religion personal; consequently, hundreds of thousands have died throughout history because of religious beliefs being forced upon others. It is still happening daily.

    I will thus reiterate what I’ve been saying for decades: Take your faith with you everywhere, but please leave your religion at home.

    • The ones who peeve me most are the white supremeist pseudo-Christians who insist Christ was white and anyone who is not is inferior.
      The truth is he was a Palestinian Jew and they were and are the same color as the Palestinians of other faiths, and many other non-white nationalities that these people love to hate.

      JC said there is no place in heaven for those who hate so those pseudo-Christians are condemning themselves to hell by their actions.

  18. I’ve been engaged in a debate for some years now. I am a Heathen and celebrate Yule, whereas my live-in mother-in-law is something of a fundamentalist Christian. She feels it’s her right to proclaim her faith loud and clear to any and all who will (or won’t) listen, whereas I feel that it shows respect to the other person IF you know their beliefs to wish them the appropriate greeting for what they celebrate.

    I don’t mind people wishing me a Merry Christmas when they don’t know me — I simply reply “Happy holidays” in return. But for those who do know me, I do tend to get a little perturbed (the degree varies according to how long/well I have known the person) when they wish me a Merry Christmas knowing full well my special day is something different. I agree with the poster above who wishes his/her (sorry Nat, I can’t tell from your name) friends greetings appropriate to the friends’ sacred days. That being said, I also agree with poster LD – keep religion at home. Let’s just change the name of the secular portion of the holiday to something not religious in nature. I like that “Winterval” idea. 🙂 I often say “Happy seasonal holiday of your choice” when I’m being a jolly old elf, but usually I say “Happy holidays” to cover all bases. I want to wish people well, not upset or offend them.

    • Winterval may be fine in the Northern Hemisphere but what about us south of the equator. December 25 is summer and HOT. My town has had temperatures over 42C (about 105F) twice already this December so Winterval just does not work.

  19. As a practising Christian, I get a bit peeved at people who complain that this or that is “anti-Christian” (it usually isn’t).

    I generally wish Christian friends a Happy Saturnalia (especially if they belong to a denomination that doesn’t celebrate Christmas because of its Pagan origins). My Moslem friends are wished a Happy Hannukah.

    Partly just to annoy them 🙂 and partly to make the point that we should all respect everyone else’s beliefs, even if we don’t share them.

  20. When you say “Thus by no means does Xmas “leave Christ out of Christmas,” and to argue it does shows gross ignorance of one’s own purported faith.”, do you mean to say all Christians who do not know the origins of the X in Xmas show ignorance of their faith? Or only those who argue about it?

    I have to admit that I did not know know the origin of the X, and although I also admit that I am not the most learned Christian in the faith, I am also far from ignorant.

    I also have to admit that I have never argued against the use of X in Xmas. I have, however, always tried to avoid using it myself. (Now I am glad to know that I can stop avoiding it!).

    However, I do feel resentment at the “gross ignorance” comment. I don’t believe I need to know about the Greek origins of the X to be a good Christian.

    I also don’t believe that knowing those origins is what should stop people arguing that it is wrong. I believe in “live and let live”. That is, I believe in living by my own morals and my own standards. And I don’t believe in lecturing others or looking down on others who don’t (in my opinion) have the same morals or standards as I do.

    I believe I am a good Christian and that is why I NEVER said anything to somebody who wrote Xmas — I just didn’t do it myself.

    (And, again, I am now glad to know that I can do it again!)

    You know what, Randy, the whole thing of being allowed (again) to write Xmas kind of ruins my point!

    I’m getting very convoluted here! My point is: People should not argue against it “because it’s allowed”, they should not argue against it “because it’s a stupid thing to argue against and just let people be!”)

    Also, I really don’t think that I’m better than anybody else, so why should they listen to what I think anyway?

    I agree that even if you take away the meaning of the X, it’s indeed a stupid thing to argue about! But to answer your starting question, while I think my wording is clear (though I acknowledge that perhaps English isn’t your first language), I’ll add emphasis: “Thus by no means does Xmas ‘leave Christ out of Christmas,’ and to argue it does shows gross ignorance of one’s own purported faith.” -rc

    • It does not make you ignorant overall. It does show that you were ignorant of that fact. We all don’t know everything there is to know. Therefore we are all ignorant of something.

  21. I happened to be around way back when X-Mas was first introduced, and although I was quite young, I don’t remember any news stories stating the X stood for the greek letter Chi. In fact, when it first came out, the reason stated was they didn’t believe in Christ, but wanted to celebrate the season regardless. The idea that it stands for Chi is a recent idea, as far as I can tell, unless you can provide reference.

    Having said that, I don’t care what people call it, as long as they’re not telling me that I can’t say Christmas, and that Christ and God are not wanted (which seems to be the prevalent sentiment today). I don’t go around bashing other people who don’t believe the way I do, and I don’t understand the fanaticism people have nowadays about the, what I call, anti-christ movement.

    Seriously, I was threatened at my work for sending a joke, not because it was crude, not because it was distasteful, but because it was a joke about Adam and Eve. The person was absolutely rabid over this. Needless to say, it was the last attempted communication with this person on my part.

    I can confidently and categorically state you were not around when “Xmas” was first used to represent “Christmas” as there is documented use in the 1100s. It could be someone told you they like it because it removed “Christ” — but they were seriously misinformed if they did. -rc

  22. Someone mentioned that Christ wasn’t born “in the deep mid-winter, when snow lay on the ground”. He was probably born in the early spring. The speherds were watching their flocks to keep the wolves from eating the new-born lambs, and not even the Roman Emperor could convince an entire country to traipse up and down Judea in the snow.

    When missionaries went to England to convert the Celts, they had to meet them where they were. “Oh, you have a festival to celebrate the return of the sun? We also celebrate the return of the Son. Let me tell you about it!”
    I do agree that Christmas should be separated from the gift giving. St. Nicholas Day is December 6th in Germany, Holland, and Austria; he is the patron saint of children. Pere Noel delivers gifts to French children on January 1st, and the Magi visit on January 6th — Epiphany. This practice leaves Christmas to be a strictly religious holiday.

    And Becca, if it’s any comfort, I am a fifth generation Episcopalian (precher’s kid, in fact) and one if my in-laws is determined to turn me into a Holy Roller. Let it roll off your back. Say “yes, ma’am”, and “hmm. I never thought of that”, and go on your way. Save your sanity.

  23. For years I have intended to write my own rant in response to the “keep Christ in Christmas” nonsense. I don’t know when I will commit my long and detailed (i.e. scholarly) essay to word processor. In the meantime I will pirate your short, pithy version. Thanks, Randy!

    Feel free to send out the link to this page every year. -rc

  24. Living in a part of what is termed “the bible belt”, I’ve had my share of fundies get in my face for wishing them “Happy Holidays”. “It’s Merry CHRISTmas” they scream into my face. They insist that I keep Christ in Christmas.
    To them I simply reply, “In that case, I do wish you a very Merry Christmas but wish your new year is the crappiest you’ve ever had. Does THAT satisfy your rejection of “Happy Holidays”?”

    That just aggravates them worse. I then get deemed to be a sinner, blasphemer, pagan, and a multitude of other names. They never seem to be satisfied unless you kowtow to their beliefs and toe a very narrow line.

    I’m specifically saying this about the fundies. I know too many TRUE Christians who practice love and live and let live to include ALL Christians in this blog. Whether I use “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Xmas” I am just expressing the best wishes upon the target of that salutation. If they can’t, or won’t, take it then too bad; I just go on to the next person and hope they are human and more Christ-like.

  25. Laady Anne, If you don’t the believe the Roman Emperor could convince an entire country to traipse up and down Judea in the snow, why would he send people back the the towns of their birth for the census rather than counting them where they were? That’s not a believable way to run an empire.

    Also, it was far earlier than missions to the Celts, as the pre-Christian citizens of Rome worshiped Sol Invictus, and the Hellenic world was suffused with syncretic solar worship, so this existed prior to Christianity in the very lands in which Christianity was born. No need to encounter Celts at some later date.

    I wish you well.

    • My understanding is that people considered themselves citizens of the town that their family was from (even if it was generations back) not where they currently resided.

  26. As my father (the son of a rabbi, and who used to love to play Devil’s advocate) used to point out: The biblical story of the birth of Jesus says that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem to pay their taxes, which would place it some time around August. (Luke 2:1-5)

    Now, to those “Christians” who claim that these are “their” holidays (“holy days”), might I point out that the major Christian holidays are simply replacements for Jewish holidays, to make it easier to convert Jews in the early days. (Easter==Passover, Christmas==Hanukkah, and so on.) I’m pretty sure that, if you look even further back, the Jewish holidays were based on some earlier holidays.

    Personally, I don’t understand why people get so upset about either “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”. It seems to me like they’re searching for things to be offended about.

  27. This is partially in response to Becca. I’m not disagreeing that you should say a greeting that is relevant to the person you are greeting, however, if you are truly in the spirit of the season, and truly believe in, well, whatever you believe, and are truly open and accepting to other people, then you should be aware that how they greet you is an expression of their love, if you will, and is not meant to be insensitive to your beliefs and feelings, but is rather to lift you up and share the giving, loving spirit we all should share. To me, this openness and understanding is the true meaning of the season.

  28. I’m always intrigued by people who think that you can separate faith from religion. If you don’t celebrate your faith through your religion, you don’t really have faith.

    Our constitution doesn’t guarantee anybody freedom from religion, just that Congress can’t establish one for us or keep us from practicing our own religion.

  29. True faith is an internalized thing, a feeling, an integral surety, a pure true knowledge by which one attempts to live every aspect of every day of one’s life. Your faith, and how well you adhere to its tenets as you go through each day, is not found anywhere other than in you.

    Religion is a congregation of those with like faiths, a support group which also provides tangible and spiritual items which can allow you to ‘touch’ base lines of belief and thus strengthen your faith, and it gives you access to a “common name” for you and those who adhere to the same basic tenets in their faith.

    Faith and religion are easily separated because faith is within the soul/spirit, while religion is merely an outward symbol for the faith(s) people profess.

  30. Last week, a gentleman had a comment published, in the readers section, in which he complained that people were forgetting the reason for the season (Jesus’ birth). I wrote to the same section and reminded him that people were celebrating the Winter Solstice long before the Christian era and THAT IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON. I further commented that the early Christians moved Jesus’ birthday to avoid calling attention to themselves during Roman Persecution. I got tired of the yearly whining on the subject. It doesn’t take a pagan to be irritated by clueless Christians.

  31. A letter recently published in a local newspaper exemplified the whininess that surrounds the holiday season perfectly. The letter was basically comprised of some atheist ranting that people shouldn’t say “Merry Christmas” b/c they thought it was “preaching” and “a sermon”. I’m an atheist myself, but I refuse to say anything other than “Merry Christmas” b/c I see it as a way to fight against the overwhelming “PC-ness” of our culture.

  32. I disagree with the statement made repeatedly that we should respect others’ beliefs. If you believe the Earth is flat, should I respect that? If you believe that I (as an atheist) will burn in hell for all eternity, should I respect that? Belief is a hard thing to define. If your child is seriously ill or injured and you believe that child will recover then I can respect that. That is in the realm of faith rather than belief as stated beautifully by another poster (take your faith with you but leave your religion at home).

    Having said that, I frequently wish people a Merry Christmas. I am no more offended as a non-believer when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah than I am as an English only speaker when someone says bonjour or buon giorno instead of good morning. The intention is to wish me well and not to insult whatever belief system I exist within. Those who take offense are not worth considering. They will find something to fuel their outrage no matter what you say or do.

    I guess it comes down to what you mean by “respect”. Is it up to Christians to “respect” that you have a different belief and should be allowed to hold that belief without harassment? I think so. They should “respect” your right to believe what you want, since it’s not their job to judge your beliefs. Do you have to adopt flat Earth ideas out of “respect”? Nope, nor do you have to associate with them. But you don’t have a right to demand they change their minds. -rc

  33. The church did not choose Dec 25 because it was the date of a pagan holiday. They chose it because of the temple rededication. For more info see

    I don’t know a thing about, but I do have a level of trust in Wikipedia, which notes: “Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, with certain elements having origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagan populations who were later converted to Christianity. These elements, including the Yule log from Yule and gift giving from Saturnalia, became syncretized into Christmas over the centuries. The prevailing atmosphere of Christmas has also continually evolved since the holiday’s inception, ranging from a sometimes raucous, drunken, carnival-like state in the Middle Ages, to a tamer family-oriented and children-centered theme introduced in a 19th-century reformation. Additionally, the celebration of Christmas was banned on more than one occasion within certain Protestant groups, such as the Puritans, due to concerns that it was too pagan or unbiblical.” -rc

  34. Temple rededication? I think not. First and foremost, because of the multiple Jewish calendars involved, and the fact that the ‘match up’ between orthodox calendars and xtian ones is approximately every 8,000 years (yes, eight thousand).

    It is a fact of history that those in power rewrite the rules, rename/reuse/refuse the holy days, determine what “history” will say so the “leaders” always come out on top.

    If you want some fun research, dig into Valentines Day.

  35. How about a new graphic for next year? Billie Holiday’s picture, with “Keep the Holiday in Happy Holidays”? (Or Buddy Holly, if you prefer). And maybe Edgar Winter, for Winterval?

    I think Billie Holiday is perfect — and I’ll stop there. -rc

  36. In 1989 I was an aide for all grades of a small elementary school. There were 12 teachers in the school (one was Jewish) and I had chalkboard squares for each of them. I decorated the squares each month. In December, I put holly leaves and decorated trees up on each board except for the Jewish teacher — she got a menorah. She nearly cried when she came in and found I had respected and honored her beliefs. To me, I had merely done what was right. To her I had done something exceptional.

  37. On the subject of respecting others faith (flat earth, seriously ill child will recover, …) what about parents who choose faith over proven lifesaving vaccinations/treatments to heal their child? While I agree that faith can help create a positive attitude to deal with whatever challenge a person is facing, I cannot respect those who knowingly reject scientifically sound approaches and instead rely solely on faith based ones that result in needless suffering and sometimes death for their child(ren).

  38. This is, I believe, the ultimate PC Xmas greeting:

    Happy Holidays! ** (See Footnote 1)

    ** Footnote 1:
    Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practised within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all . . . and a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great, (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only “AMERICA” in the western hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform, or sexual preference of the wishee.

    By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

    The wishee further agrees to hold harmless and indemnify the wisher, along with its heirs, assigns, officers, directors, shareholders . . .

    I sent a Christmas card one year — and it was well pre-Stella Awards — that was quite similar. -rc

  39. I realize that the “fact” that Christmas was stolen from a pagan holiday is popular, but my understanding is that it’s the other way around. An ancient Jewish tradition held that truly holy people died on the same day they were conceived, and for most Christians Jesus’s death was calculated to be March 25th. Add 9 months, and you get Dec. 25 (others used April and Jan 6th). There are writings about Mar 25th as early as 200(ish) CE.

    Sol Invictus wasn’t created by Roman decree until he year 274CE.

    • Pardon my math, but if he was conceived 9 months + n years before his death March 25th, wouldn’t that make it June 25th? Subtract 9 months, not add them.

      Not in this case: if you’re looking for the span from conception to birth, it’s +9. But to stay with “math,” it’s pretty faulty logic to assume that “tradition” = “fact.” -rc

  40. Loved the picture of “Di in Diwali”. Not that I didn’t like the others, but for me Diwali is a lot closer home. I was born in a Hindu family. Then I started thinking.

    You’re begging the question! Where did your thinking lead you? -rc

  41. Thank God I am an atheist, but deep rooted in Xian belief.

    Just prior to this years Cmas my moslem mechanic wished me a merry Xmas. A bit surprised I thanked him and asked if he and his family had any form of celebration his answer was:

    – No. We just enjoy a few quiet days giving us time to relax and contemplate our lives!

    Could the true meaning of A Xian mass be better expressed? I think not considering Jesus’ treatment of the merchants in the temple.

    To me the core of Xianity is Jesus telling people to love their neighbor as they love themselves and in the tale of the Samaritan. Just too bad so many so-called Xians seem to be extremely self loathing.

  42. I tell people to have a happy holiday season. That avoids the angst over “happy holidays” and covers all my bases.

    And The Therapy Sisters did a really fun holiday song called “Happy Whatever You’re Having.” You can find it on YouTube.

    It’s here, from their album “Codependent Christmas”.

  43. I have read (don’t recall source, or how accurate it might have been) that there was a belief that a true prophet’s death occurred on the anniversary of his conception. That would allow for early believers to come up with Christ being born in December, in spite of all the logical arguments against that date.

  44. If we really want to dig into the meaning of the word Christmas/Xmas, there’s more to it than the first syllable.

    The ‘mas’ in Christmas is a shortened form of ‘Mass’, so the “true” meaning of Christmas is Christ’s Mass, that is, the service of worship celebrating the birth of Christ. Christmas isn’t really a season at all but an event that takes place at a church (specifically a Roman Catholic church if we want to be sticklers about it).

    Over time we’ve continued to abbreviate the word while adding to the meaning until Christmas isn’t much at all like it was originally. This is especially evident in the hypocritical ignorance of those who would rail against writing it as Xmas yet, at the same time, not think it important to partake in worship on that day. It’s even become common in some traditions to not have worship when Christmas falls on a Sunday so that everyone, especially staff, can spend the day with their families. Talk about missing out on the meaning of Christmas!

  45. A few decades ago (I’m 68 now, so probably 50 or so years ago), my father, a Lutheran minister told me that one of the first things that the professors taught them in Seminary (ULCA’s Maywood Seminary in Chicago) was that each time they needed to write “Christ” to simply write “X”. He graduated from seminary in 1949.

    He laughed every holiday season when crazy fundamentalists would yell because godless businessmen had put the X in Xmas, because he knew the truth that ministers and seminary students actually were to blame, but of course, the fundamentalist ministers didn’t want to admit it.

  46. I had a friend who was Jewish. He always sent me a Christmas card and I always sent him a Happy Holidays card. I asked him once about sending him a card and he suggested the Happy Holidays card. Our cards were a way of celebrating each other’s religion. Sadly, he is gone now but I always think of him at Hanukkah.

    And that’s the way to do it. -rc

  47. Yet in America, we don’t speak or write Greek so the X might make sense in Greece but not in America where is a sign of pure laziness.

  48. Indeed, the early Christians spoke Greek-based languages. The word Christ came much later to be after English became the more prevalent language. Would the average Obliviot be persuaded by this fact?

    • And the Greek word would be Christos (Χρήστος), from which English et all derived ‘Christ’. Also Greek was the original language of the letters retained which eventually became the Christian New Testament ~ the earliest extant copy is in Santa Katarina next to Mt. Sinai. Jesus & his original group spoke Aramaic, but likely knew a bit of Greek because it was the trading language of the Empire. (Codicil: As far as we know today.)

  49. It has always been Marry-Christmas for the last 70 years for me why to change it.

    Because maybe you’ll not want to display your foolish ignorance for your entire life. -rc

  50. When it comes to Christmas or Xmas I do not care.

    When it comes to Christian or “Christian,” THAT I care about. For the people who call themselves “Christian” while denying food, shelter and health care to those in need…. Well, if they ever “Find Christ,” they will deport Him.

  51. The Christians did with the birth of their savior the same thing they did to pagan churches: tear them down and build a Christian church on the spot. Replace that mid-winter celebration with one that promotes their beliefs. It’s what conquerors have always done.

  52. Thank you, Randy. Sorry there are so many “Christians” getting their knickers in a twist and taking it out on you and the rest of us.

    *Shrug* — it’s what happens when those who refuse to think are challenged to do so: they fight back and display their ignorance. It’s why “obliviot” was coined in the first place. -rc


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