PBP: “X” is for Xmas

I loathe the holiday season. The commercialism, sudden surge of goodwill, and the “put the Christ back in Christmas” bullshit all gets on my last nerve. I go into social hibernation shortly after Halloween, hoping not to see anyone until the New Year. It’s like those folks who think it is sacrilegious in using ‘X’ to shorten the holiday’s name: a short-hand version used primarily by advertisers in early 20th century America… it might actually have a more sacred meaning if the followers of Jesus looked more closely.

The definitive example of a “chrismon” (christi monogramma). It is the combination of the Greek letters Chi and Rho, the first two Greek letters of “christos”, referencing Jesus Christ.

A few years back, some Christians decided to wage a war against secularists or others who don’t take the “Christ” so seriously around this time of year.

But 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” – quote from evangelist Franklin Graham on CNN (2005).

There are so many things wrong with this statement and attitude surrounding the issue, but they have failed to actually do any sort of research;  even Christian preachers should be able to use wikipedia. If so, they would know the use of ‘X’ goes back to the beginning of the religious movement. X is actually the Greek uppercase letter of Chi, adding the letter P as Rho and we get the labarum ( ), an ancient symbol representing the Christos, or Christ. So literally, when people are using the abbreviated version these evangelicals loathe and take offense of so much… they are giving MORE spiritual and historical relevance in modern ‘christmas’ by  putting the Χριστος where it belongs.

Since having a family I am now forced to create some kind of traditional thing or carry on those I had growing up with. Since I was Catholic, my mother, sisters and I participated in Advent a few times and the beauty of midnight mass. I remember being bored to tears with the baby Jesus story and waiting for the magickal moment when we lit the candles… I can see why the Jews started doing Hanukkah. This ancient symbol of a light in the darkness of winter heralds back to even further through my genes and my mother’s intention of re-building it after she took German in high school. On December 6th we would receive a visit from Saint Nicholas, a tradition held mainly by Catholics in Germanic countries. A lot like Santa (whom I was terrified of… come on: big red guy, scrambled Satan letters, sneaks in after dark whilst all the adults are asleep; more like a nightmare than some sugar plumb fairies), except being Old School he brought hard candies, nuts and fruit… yippee.

Nikolaus and Krampus in Austria. Newspaper-illustration from 1896.

The treats of St. Nick were still better than the alternative: rocks and twigs. It was only later when  researching these traditions  that I re-discovered the Krampus! Now that was something to truly be terrified of! Hairy beasts roaming the city streets and countryside on the night before Saint Nicholas’ feast, being invited into homes by parents for beer and snacks only to judge the wicked children from the good. If they were the former, they would be dragged off by the Krampus, usually thrown in a sack to be beaten with twigs and carried off to their lair. What happens at that point, I don’t wish to find out… but I think it would be awesome if we resurrected this fearsome character!

The winter months used to be a time of darkness, hope and family as we rarely went out, conserved the foodstuff and counted our blessings. This is the tradition I have always hung onto and try to share with my daughter…

WytchfawnPBP: “X” is for Xmas