5 Things You Didn't Know About the "War on Christmas"
The practice of abbreviating Christ's name with an X actually started at least in the first century, and appears in several early Greek New Testaments. X represents the Greek letter "chi", and was often used by copyist for the same reason people use it today; to cut down on space and effort. In the 15th century, when printing presses came into play, printers still would abbreviate Christ, as well as Christian, Christina, and other derivatives with an X to cut costs. Newspapers and other publications picked it up from there.
They assumed everyone was smart enough to know Xmas stood for Christmas since it's been that way for almost as long as the New Testament has been around.
3. Christmas as You Understand It Is Very, Very Recent: For most of its history, America really hasn't given a damn about Christmas. It wasn't a federal holiday until 1870, and for many years after that the idea that private businesses should give the day off to all their employees wasn't standard. Before 1870, Congress was in session on December 25, and in early America several places outright banned the holiday as too Catholic or as a form of idolatry. The general attitude was that if you liked Christmas, have a Christmas. The rest of the country got on how it wanted.
Or it tried to at any rate... drunken riots on Christmas were actually the reason that New York City organized its first police force, and the holiday was regarded as worse than Halloween in terms of mischief and vandalism.
The reason we celebrate Christmas the way we do today is the same reason we celebrate most holidays the way we do. Around the time of the Civil War, there was a concerted effort to bolster a sense of unity through holidays like Thanksgiving (Which no one else ever cared about either), and a big part of that was appealing to people's sense of religion and family to basically create a forced day of generosity and brotherhood. Once retailers in the late 19th century realized that you could exploit that to make money on presents, Christmas as we know it was born.
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