Brussels' Grand Place was illuminated during a light show as part of "Winter Wonders" festivities in central Brussels Dec. 7, 2015. Reuters

“Keep Christ in Christmas:” Most people have seen Christmas written as Xmas, but not everyone knows what it means. Turns out the X can mean many things, but when associated with Christmas it is not disrespectful like some people might erroneously think.

X stands for Christ’s name, so people are “keeping Christ in Christmas” when they write “Xmas.” It was first used to symbolize Christ in the mid-1500s.

Here’s how: X is a Greek letter that is pronounced “chi.” It’s also the first letter in the Greek word Χριστός, which means Christ, according to Dictionary.com. So when the Greek word for Christ was transliterated into the alphabet, it just converted as X. The mas part of “Xmas” stood for “mass” in Old English. That’s ultimately how “Xmas” became shorthand for Christmas. Even though it’s not as popular, Xtian has been used to represent the word “Christian.”

Since not everyone is familiar with X’s meaning, some see “Xmas” as an insult to Jesus. However, it is nothing more than an abbreviation and shows no disrespect. It’s akin to the fish symbol for Jesus, Ligonier.org wrote.

When associated with Christmas, some people might see it as off-putting since X can represent an obscene film, X-rated, or an unknown quantity in math, X. These meanings, however, have nothing to do with Christmas, Ligonier.org noted.

Another reason “Xmas” gets bad wrap is because some might associate it with paganism. Meldrim Thomson Jr., the Governor of New Hampshire, issued a press release in 1977 that said journalists should stop taking the “Christ” out of “Christmas” by writing it as “Xmas” because that was apparently the pagan spelling of the word, TodayIFoundOut.com wrote. Of course, he was incorrect.

Franklin Graham, son of world renowned evangelist Billy Graham, made the same gaffe during a 2005 interview with CNN: “For us as Christians, this is one of the most holy of the holidays, the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. And for people to take Christ out of Christmas. They’re happy to say merry Xmas. Let’s just take Jesus out. And really, I think, a war against the name of Jesus Christ.”

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