Difference between Xmas and Christmas

Updated on July 3, 2016

During Christmas, when you drive alongside establishments, walk inside malls, and read song or event titles that mention this particular celebration, how do you usually see it spelled? Is it “Xmas” or “Christmas”?



Xmas is a contraction of the word Christmas which most of us are familiar with. The letter “X” originated from the Greek letter “chi” and is the first letter for the Greek word for “Christ” and “maesse”, the Old English word for “mass”. It is a casual version of the word “Christmas”, and therefore, should not be used in formal writing. This abbreviation began to be used in the year 1100 and was written as “Xpes maesse” and simply changed into “Xmas” during the 18th century.

Christmas is a yearly celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth that is observed on the 25th of December, though his exact birth date is unknown. Although there may be arguments regarding this detail, Christians in general accept this date. It is a Christian holiday where people often decorate their homes with assorted lights and ornaments, exchange gifts or give gifts to children, and spend time with their families, among countless other activities. This special event serves as a time to remember this birth of Jesus Christ, the one Son of God, who was sent to redeem mankind from sin.

The term, “Christmas” originated from the Old English word “Cristes maesse” which means “Christ’s mass”. It was formed during the 14th century and derived from the Greek word “Christos” (meaning Christ) and Latin word “missa” (meaning mass).

Xmas vs Christmas

So what is the difference between Xmas and Christmas? Despite the fact that some Christians detest the use of the abbreviation “Xmas”, as the word “Christ” is taken out of it, there is not much of a difference except for the spelling, origin, and usual users of the terms. Additionally, businesses prefer the use of “Xmas” for advertisements for its concision. But regardless of how it is spelled, the heart of the celebration remains unchanged.

Comparison Chart

Abbreviation of “Christmas”, with “X” originating from the Greek letter “chi”; was written long ago as “Xpes maesse”Comes from the Greek word “Christos” and Latin word “missa”
Preferred by business for advertisementsPreferred by Christians
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