Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Twice Told Tuesday - Merry Xmas

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 Brett Payne said...

I've seen an "X" or even a cross "+" used in parish register entries from the 1600s to denote the "Christ" portion of the name Christopher, i.e. +oferus in Latin.

December 21, 2010 at 12:23 AM  
Blogger Lori H said...

Yes! It isn't something new. I think it's interesting that some people tend to get angry over the use of the "x", but it isn't a sign of disrespect at all!

December 21, 2010 at 3:03 PM  
Anonymous Missy/Bayside Research said...

Lovely post and pic (and I collect dictionaries too!) :o)

December 21, 2010 at 6:35 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Brett - I had never heard that use of the X, thank you for the information.

Lori - My Aunt got upset. She is no longer with us. Wish I could have given her the straight scoop.

Missy - I knew I loved you! Is there a name for those of us who collect dictionaries?


December 21, 2010 at 8:18 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

She is very beautiful! Thanks for sharing!!

December 22, 2010 at 8:08 PM  

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