Re: virus: Re: why religious

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Thu, 14 Nov 1996 17:22:40 -0800 (PST)

On Thu, 14 Nov 1996 wrote:

> Eva wrote:
> >
> >
> > On Wed, 13 Nov 1996 wrote:
> >
> > >
> > > * - Xmas, contrary to popular belief, is not a shortening of Christmas, but
> > > the X refers to a Pagan rune, wich closely resembles the X.
> >
> > Could you footnote your footnote, please? I have never heard this before
> > (while I *have* seen X used in various contexts as an abbreviation of
> > 'Christ'), and am skeptical of your source. Actually, if you have a
> > footnote for the Christmas-is-illegal-in-England bit, too, I'm curious
> > about it.
> >
> > Eva
> >
> My original source for the abbreviation Xmas was such a long time ago that
> I don't actually remember where it came from. BUT, the book I am currently
> plodding through is entitled "Rites of Passage, The Pagan Wheel of Life",
> by Pauline and Dan Campanelli. In this it refers to the Pagan rune X (or
> at least, it closely resembles it), and it's use in this context. You
> might also want to try "Ancient Ways" by the same couple. Although I havn't
> read it myself, it is regularly refered to in the former text, and seems
> as though it would be a good reference on such things as runes.
> To do what has been reccommended before, I'll give you a brief low-down of
> the book I'm reading: Basically, it is a series of rites [of passage] which
> a Pagan, and most especially a Wiccan should [if they so wish] perform to
> mark various milestones in their lives. It covers everything from
> Birth rituals, Coming of Age, Mid-life, Priestess and Priesthood, Last
> rites, and other related important parts of a persons natural life. If it
> means anything to any of you, a new film out, entitled "The Craft" (for those
> of you in America, this probably isn't that new, but over here in England, it
> only came out last week), uses a lot of ritual scenes, and if you've read the
> above book, a lot of them seem very familiar! Not exact, but bastardisations
> of the originals.
> Drakir

Thanks for the book refs; I'll add them to my list of things to look for.

I actually did look up the rune myself, and found a Norse rune that looks
like X (but pronounced /g/), called Gyfu or Gifu and with the associated
meaning of 'gift'. Suggestive, but neither book I looked at mentioned any
association with Christmas. Also, 'Christmas' is a contraction of
'Christ's Mass' in Old English ('Cristes maesse'); 'mass' is an Old
English word derived from Latin 'missa' as in 'dismissal', and has no
Norse derivation. The initial X is used for Christ because it is the
first initial (Chi) in the Greek version of his title, 'Christos'. The
combined Chi-Rho symbol was an early symbol of Christiantity, at first
far more common than the cross. The Chi/X initial for 'Christ' is also
seen in the fish logo, with the Greek letters spelling out 'ICHTHYOS'
('fish'), an acronym for a longer title in Greek, I forget exactly what,
something like "Jesus Christ, Lord, Son of God and Saviour'. All in all,
I think the 'Xmas' abbreviation is best explained by 'X' as an
abbreviation for Christ, and the rune is an interesting coincidence. But
I could be swayed if anyone dug up any evidence that Gyfu was related to
the word 'Xmas' in some historical way. Goodness knows other aspects of
Christmas have multiple origins and layers of symbolism, which is, I
believe what we were talking about to begin with.