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Xmas vs. Christmas: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 13, 2024
Xmas is an abbreviation of Christmas, originating from the Greek letter Chi (Χ) representing Christ; Christmas is the full name of the Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Key Differences

The term 'Xmas' is an abbreviation where 'X' represents the Greek letter Chi, the first letter of Christ in Greek. Its use dates back to at least the 16th century. 'Christmas,' on the other hand, comes from the Old English 'Cristes maesse,' meaning 'Christ's mass,' and has been used since the 11th century to denote the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Some view 'Xmas' as a secular version of 'Christmas,' potentially stripping the holiday of its Christian significance. However, this is a misconception, as 'Xmas' was historically used by religious scholars. In contrast, 'Christmas' is universally recognized and accepted as the official name of the religious holiday, carrying with it deeply entrenched cultural and religious connotations.
'Xmas' is often used for brevity in informal writing and commercial signage. Its concise form is convenient in contexts where space or time is limited. Conversely, 'Christmas' is used in formal writing and speech, maintaining traditional and ceremonial importance in religious and secular contexts alike.
Some religious individuals may consider 'Xmas' as less respectful than 'Christmas,' preferring the full name to acknowledge the religious significance of the holiday. Nonetheless, both terms refer to the same holiday, with 'Christmas' being more predominant in religious ceremonies and traditional celebrations.
The evolution of 'Xmas' reflects a broader linguistic trend where abbreviations and shorthand forms become common in casual communication. However, 'Christmas' remains the more established and traditional term, often used in literature, formal documents, and in maintaining the historical and cultural essence of the holiday.

Comparison Chart


Abbreviation from Greek letter Chi (Χ)
Derived from Old English 'Cristes maesse'

Cultural Perception

Sometimes seen as secular
Universally recognized as a religious holiday


Informal, convenient for brevity
Formal, used in traditional contexts

Public View

May be viewed as less respectful
Considered respectful and traditional

Linguistic Context

Reflects modern trends in abbreviation
Represents traditional linguistic form

Xmas and Christmas Definitions


A shorthand term for the holiday season.
Sales usually increase during the Xmas period.


Celebrated on December 25th with traditions like gift-giving and decorating trees.
Their family exchanged gifts on Christmas morning.


A modern adaptation of the traditional holiday name.
Xmas celebrations in the city included a parade and lights.


A time for festive activities and family gatherings.
Christmas dinner was her favorite part of the holiday.


An abbreviation of Christmas, often used in informal contexts.
She wrote Happy Xmas! on her holiday cards.


Symbolizes peace, goodwill, and joy in Christian and secular cultures.
The spirit of Christmas was evident in the decorated streets.


Reflective of contemporary communication trends in abbreviating words.
Text messages often use 'Xmas' instead of 'Christmas.'


A Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.
They attended a special church service on Christmas.


A concise version of Christmas used in advertising and signage.
The store displayed a huge Xmas Sale banner.


Often associated with historical and cultural traditions.
They enjoyed watching Christmas movies together.




A Christian feast commemorating the birth of Jesus.


(informal) Xmas


December 25, the day on which this feast is observed as a public holiday in many countries.


A Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Christ; a quarter day in England, Wales, and Ireland




An annual church festival (December 25) and in some States a legal holiday, in memory of the birth of Christ, often celebrated by a particular church service, and also by special gifts, greetings, and hospitality.


Period extending from Dec. 24 to Jan. 6


A Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Christ; a quarter day in England, Wales, and Ireland


Spend Christmas;
We were christmassing in New York


What is Xmas?

Xmas is an informal abbreviation of Christmas.

What does Christmas celebrate?

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.

Why do some people use Xmas instead of Christmas?

Xmas is used for its brevity, especially in informal contexts and commercial use.

What are common Christmas traditions?

Common Christmas traditions include decorating Christmas trees, exchanging gifts, and family feasts.

Can Xmas be used in formal writing?

Xmas is typically not used in formal writing; 'Christmas' is preferred.

What's the origin of the Christmas tree?

The Christmas tree tradition originated in Germany and symbolizes everlasting life.

When is Christmas celebrated?

Christmas is celebrated on December 25th.

Is Xmas a newer term than Christmas?

Xmas is not necessarily newer, but it became more popular in modern times for its convenience.

How do people celebrate Christmas in non-Christian cultures?

In non-Christian cultures, Christmas may be celebrated as a cultural festival focusing on themes of peace and family.

Is Xmas a proper term?

Xmas is a proper term historically used in religious texts and informal communication.

How is Christmas observed around the world?

Christmas is observed with various cultural and religious customs worldwide.

What is the religious significance of Christmas?

The religious significance of Christmas lies in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, a central figure in Christianity.

Why is Christmas a public holiday in many countries?

Christmas is a public holiday due to its religious significance and widespread cultural acceptance.

Is Xmas considered disrespectful by some?

Some may view Xmas as less respectful, preferring the full term 'Christmas' for its religious significance.

What role do gifts play in Christmas celebrations?

Gift-giving is a significant part of Christmas celebrations, symbolizing the gifts given to Jesus by the Wise Men.

Do Xmas and Christmas have different cultural connotations?

Culturally, Xmas is often seen as more secular, while Christmas carries traditional and religious connotations.

Are Xmas and Christmas celebrated differently?

Xmas and Christmas are not celebrated differently; the terms simply reflect different ways of referring to the same holiday.

Does Xmas have the same meaning as Christmas?

Yes, Xmas and Christmas refer to the same holiday.

What foods are traditionally eaten on Christmas?

Traditional Christmas foods vary by culture but often include turkey, ham, and various desserts.

Can Xmas be used in religious contexts?

Xmas can be used in religious contexts, though 'Christmas' is more common in formal religious ceremonies.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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