Friday, December 18, 2009

Is Something New Really Something Old?

The beautiful young Edwardian woman you see in this photograph is one of the orphans in my photographic collection. She caught my eye not only for her beauty, but for the gold embossed Merry Xmas displayed at the bottom of her cabinet card.

She was one of the featured photographs in the December/Holiday issue of Shades Of The Departed The Magazine in the Everything Old Is New Again article.

"Beauty" probably sat for this Christmas portrait in the early 1900s.
Was Merry Xmas in use in the early 1900s? I thought Xmas was something new, could it be something old? To solve my mystery, I consulted my collection of dictionaries and found the following answer. (Yes, I also collect dictionaries.)

The Winston Dictionary
College Edition
- 1946 -

Xmas abbr. Christmas: - Xn., Christian (also Xtian.): -Xnty., Christianity (also Xty.)

Collegiate Dictionary
Eleventh Edition
- 2004 -

Xmas n [X symbol for Christ, fr. the GK letter chi (X), initial of Christos Christ) + -mas (in Christmas)] (1551): CHRISTMAS

"X" (as in chi) was used as an abbreviation for Christ from early times, some saying that it was initially a camouflage for the religion. It is the first letter of the word Christos (meaning "the anointed one," e.g., the Messiah) and fortuitously was cross-shaped. Xmas has been used as a scholarly and not-so-scholarly abbreviation since.

So, Xmas is not the "something new" I thought it was, but the "something old" of the Christian religion!

Merry Xmas "Beauty" and thank you for the history lesson!


Blogger Carol said...

What a GREAT post! Totally amazing what a bit of research turns up! THANX

December 18, 2009 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger Lori H said...

I absolutely love the photograph. Gosh! I love those sleeves!

December 20, 2009 at 5:33 AM  
Blogger Life Goes On said...

What a wonderful photo. I never knew Xmas was used years ago until I started posting vintage post cards and saw every one used this phrase. These were written in the early 1900's

December 20, 2009 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger Joan said...

Thank you for sharing Beauty, as well as the history lesson.

December 28, 2009 at 6:56 PM  

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