"i must stop non-christians from treating christmas like non-christians!"

ahhh.. its that time of year again – decorations, trees, shopping, christmas carols, and the mass emails decrying the use of “Xmas” rather than “christmas” and others calling for boycotts of retailers who say “happy holidays” rather than “merry christmas”.

i’m with zach nielsen who, in responding to an email that rates how “christmas friendly” (“friendly, negligent, or offensive”) certain retailers are, has this to say: [bolded emphasis is mine]

Why are we expecting non-believers to ascribe to something that means nothing to them? Does this help us promote the true meaning of Christmas? Why would we expect any different? I don’t get it.

Whether unbelievers use the words Happy Holidays or Christmas is of little consequence as to their understanding of the Gospel. In my view, this kind of stuff only hurts our mission to communicate the truth of the Gospel. If you think people using the word Christmas somehow makes our materialistic holiday extravaganza more pure you are probably not paying attention very well. Boycotting secular businesses that do not exhibit the kind of behavior that we think they should is the last thing that an unbelieving world needs to see.

The main question this website asks is, “How Christmas Friendly Are Retailers?” What does retail have to do with the essence of Christmas anyway? Obviously, the true meaning of Christmas is very important to us and we want to teach our kids the meaning of Christmas, but that is not going to be found in any retail store, no matter how “Christmas friendly” they are.

Let’s say that the CEO of Best Buy somehow stumbles upon this website and he happens to be a hard-core Christian skeptic. Do you think that this kind of a website is a helpful Christian witness for him? I doubt it. It serves the opposite goal. If we want people to cherish Christmas the path to seeing that accomplished is not paved with boycotts and angry comment sections on a public website.

Do we expect our unbelieving Muslim friends to acknowledge Christmas? Do we expect our unbelieving Hindu friends to acknowledge Christmas? Do we have unbelieving friends? Isn’t this just a subtle (or not so subtle ) form of legalism?

so before you pass on that email that gives toys ‘r’ us a 60% offensive rating for saying “season’s greetings” (*gasp* even the pagans say “happy holidays!”), maybe we can just delete it and be a customer who doesn’t behave rudely or selfishly to other customers or store employees, as if our time is more valuable than everyone else’s, while we wait in line to buy things for people that they don’t even need.

an early christian symbol "jesus christ (X P) is the alpha and omega"

 and as for using “X”mas…

“X mas” didnt find its origins with nativity hating retailers. it was  simply used as “shorthand” as far back as the 16th century. the greek word for christ, “christos”, begins with “chi”which looks like “X” in the english alphabet. also used by early christians was a symbol that placed the first two greek letters of “christos” (the “x” and the rho, or “p”) on top of each other. this symbol is referred to as the “chi rho”.

so, there you have it- maybe those who use “Xmas”  are simply paying homage to early christians who suffered persecution and used  “X” instead of “christ” just to survive!

(ok, they probably just mean “im in a hurry” -but in most cases, they probably do not mean “i hate baby jesus”)

we have all the reason in the world to be joyful this season. let’s not get sucked into trivial controversies that do little to promote the message of christmas. let’s reclaim christmas as a time when christians are known for the message we are for, instead of what we are against.

[this post is a modified version of one first posted in dec. 2008]