Early use of “Xmas” includes Bernard Ward’s History of St. Edmund’s college, Old Hall (originally published circa 1755).[9] An earlier version, “X’temmas”, dates to 1551.[9] Around 1100 the term was written as “Xp̄es mæsse” in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.[2] “Xmas” is found in a letter from George Woodward in 1753.[10] Lord Byron used the term in 1811,[11] as did Samuel Coleridge (1801)[5] and Lewis Carroll (1864).[11] In the United States, the fifth edition of the Royal Standard English Dictionary, published in Boston in 1800, included in its list of “Explanations of Common Abbreviations, or Contraction of Words” the entry: “Xmas. Christmas.”[12] Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. used the term in a letter dated 1923.[11] Since at least the late 19th century, “Xmas” has been in use in various other English-language nations. Quotations with the word can be found in texts first written in Canada,[13] and the word has been used in Australia,[7] and in the Caribbean.[14] Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage stated that modern use of the term is largely limited to advertisements, headlines and banners, where its conciseness is valued. The association with commerce “has done nothing for its reputation”, according to the dictionary.[11]
In the United Kingdom, the former Church of England Bishop of Blackburn, Alan Chesters, recommended to his clergy that they avoid the spelling.[5] In the United States, in 1977 New Hampshire Governor Meldrim Thomson sent out a press release saying that he wanted journalists to keep the “Christ” in Christmas, and not call it Xmas—which he called a “pagan” spelling of Christmas.[15]

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