I promised a while back to explain why Xmas is not “taking the Christ out of Christmas.” This spelling doesn’t need to be controversial or offensive.
The X may look as though it’s eliminating Christ. People may think that modern, secular, supposedly anti-Christmas folk don’t even want to say or spell Christ. In fact, the X is not eliminating Christ. It means “Christ.”
The Greek alphabet represented “ch” with the letter chi, pronounced kye and shaped like an X, as in fraternity names such as Sigma Chi (ΣΧ). As early as 1021, a scribe used the letter to represent the first syllable of Christmas to save space on expensive parchment. The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge used it in a letter in 1801, and so did Lord Byron in 1811. It was in common use by the Catholic Church from about the 16th century on.
You may have seen the symbol pictured above, the chi rho, which puts two Greek letters together to represent Christ. The chi, or X, is superimposed on the rho, which looks like our P. These are the first two sounds of Christ. Emperor Constantine popularized the chi rho by waving the image on military banners. (I know. Eeeww.) That was in the 4th century.
Everyone has a right to her or his feelings and may continue to be offended by Xmas. Bear in mind, however, the term’s long, respectable history. It’s worth explaining to someone who’s offended, but then maybe stop arguing about a letter. As one of my sources points out, we probably should just follow the holiday’s namesake and turn the other XIK.