By now, many people have heard of the hysteria in Pagosa Springs, Colorado over Lisa Jensen’s Christmas wreath cum peace sign.
This isn’t the first time that people have erroneously accused a perfectly innocent symbol of being anti-Christian or part of a “War on Christmas.” In my youth, I remember my elders vigorously objecting to the use of the term “Xmas” to refer to the holiday commemorating the birth of our Savior. According to these people, that term was part of a sinister campaign by Satanic forces to take “Christ” out of Christmas. What they fail to realize is that “Xmas” has been in use use for at least a millennium. In Greek, the lingua franca of the Classical world, the letter “chi” is the first letter of the word “Christ.” It was quite common during the middle-ages to abbreviate as much as possible (just as we do in texting today), because writing was fairly laborious and writing surfaces expensive. Christ was commonly abbreviated simply with the “chi”—translated from the Greek characters to the Roman letter “x.” Do you see where this is going? It is quite a leap to assume that the legitimate abbreviation of our Lord’s title (Christ being a title, not a name) somehow secularizes the celebration.
Yet again, too many people act rather silly, attacking superficial elements like “Xmas,” “Happy Holidays,” and peace signs instead of the more genuine—if more subtle—threats to the spirit of Christmas. Isn’t war—particularly a tragically ill-conceived and poorly-implemented war—a greater affront to the celebration of the Prince of Peace than a sign symbolizing the hope for peace? Rather than fretting over whether or not they are trying to take Christ out of Christmas, shouldn’t we be more worried about whether or not we’ve let the holiday become so materialistic and commercial that our Lord might not even want his name associated with the celebration?