Christmas card investigating the etymology of the phrase ‘Merry Christmas’. Text reads:
Before the 1800s, the word ‘merry’ had a more peaceful connotation, such as ‘pleasant or agreeable’, compared to its modern meaning, suggesting ‘jovial’ or indeed ‘mildly intoxicated’.
In shortening Christmas to Xmas, there are those who believe that the ‘x’ represents the cross Jesus was crucified upon. Others view this as an unwelcome modern abbreviation, which they fear ‘takes the Christ out of Christmas’. Its true origin dates back to ancient Greece. The ‘x’ is in fact the Greek letter ‘χ’, or ‘chi’. It was often used by early Christians as it is the initial letter of Χριστός, the Greek word for Christ.
The ‘mas’ ending derives from the Anglo-Saxon for ‘festival’ or ‘religious event’.