Word of the Every So Often
December 8, 2023
transpiration: (noun) technically, the exhalation of water by a plant through the stoma, which, as we all know, are all the really tiny holes in the “skin” of a plant. Bob, having moved well beyond just watching the grass turn green, spent his afternoons watching the lawn transpire.
Cartoon of the Week
The Xmas season is finally here, and nowhere is it celebrated quite like we do here at the Press!
Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem, PA
Oh, little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie.
No workers’ feet
fill empty streets;
no smoke stacks cloud the skies.
Through foreign competition
and greedy corporate gains,
a few jobs lost,
well that’s the cost.
We’ll lock the gates with chains.
Oh, little town of Bethlehem,
no presents under trees.
No Christmas feast,
you’ve lost your lease.
You’re left outside to freeze.
Please think us not uncaring
when of your plight we hear.
We just get annoyed
with the unemployed;
it ruins our holiday cheer.
Let's Put the "X" Back in "Xmas"
There are many who fervently believe that the "X" in "Xmas" is crossing out Christ's name. And, according to them, that makes it a really bad thing to do, much like shortening "God be with you" to "Good-bye." But what do they know?
First, understand that the Bible was not written in English... not originally. Lots of things weren't. English is not that old. The origin of the English language traditionally dates back to 1066 with the Battle of Hastings, easily a thousand years after Christ. (English Language) Even at that, what they were speaking isn't even close to what we now call English. If you went back in time and expected people to be able to understand you, first, go somewhere they actually spoke English. Second, don't go before, say, 1500. If you were to go back to the early days of when the New Testament was being written, around 50 AD, (History of the Bible) they were speaking Greek. Indeed, the word "Bible" is of Greek origin. (Language of the New Testament)
The Greek word for Christ (in Greek) is
If you could find an original copy of the New Testament, that's the word you're going to see. (Ambrosino)
Using "X" as an abbreviation for Christ goes back a long ways, too, all the way back to Constantine the Great (not to be confused with his son, Constantine the OK). On October 28, 312 AD, Constantine defeated the superior forces of his nemesis Maxentius at the battle of Milivan Bridge. (The Battle of Milvian Bridge) The night before Constantine had a vision, and in that vision God himself told Constantine to create a war banner with the first two letters of Christ's name, which, in Greek, are chi and rho, "chi" being an X, and "rho" being a P... like this:
If the above symbol doesn't look familiar to you, then you've probably never been in a Christian church. By the way, Constantine won that battle, which is pretty much a forgone conclusion if you have God on your side. (Ambrosino) Anybody who's seen the Indiana Jones movies knows that.
Another familiar symbol for many Christians is
This is actually an acronym (in Greek), meaning "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour." Yup. The "X" is short for "Christ." (Ambrosino)
"Christmas" is a combination of the words "Christ" and "Mass." Christ being... well... Jesus. And Mass means... well... mass – a church service. In this case, it's a church service for Christ. At one time, especially in the Catholic church, every saint had a day, and on that day a special mass was said for that particular saint. (Clark) For instance, Michaelmas, honoring the Angel Michael (one of my favourites), and all the other Angels as well (after all, there are over 10,000 saints recognized by the Catholic church), is celebrated by those who celebrate such things on September 29. (Johnson)
The first recorded instance of "Xmas" being used for "Christmas" is in 1021, when a thrifty scribe shortened it to "XPmas." And who can blame him? After all, parchment paper was expensive, and not to be wasted. And he was probably copying the entire Bible by hand. Anything that could be abbreviated was. Soon after the abbreviation was shortened even more, to "Xmas." (Ambrosino) And, as they say, the rest is history.
So if you're tired of the way Xmas has changed over the years, of how people have taken a once sacred holiday and made it into a farce... if you want to get back to the real meaning of Xmas, then it's time to put the "X" back in Xmas.
Ambrosino, Brandon. "The X in Xmas Literally Means Christ. Here's the History Behind It." 14 Dec. 2014. Vox. 11 Dec. 2019 https://www.vox.com/2014/12/14/7374401/jesus-xmas-christmas
"The Battle of Milvian Bridge and the History of the Book." 2019. Library News. 11 Dec. 2019 http://library.missouri.edu/news/special-collections/the-battle-of-milvian-bridge-and-the-history-of-the-book
Clark, Wayne. "What is the Meaning of 'Mas' in the Word Christmas?" Quora. 11 Dec. 2019 https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-meaning-of-mas-in-the-word-Christmas
"English Language." 7 Dec. 2019. Wikipedia. 11 Dec. 2019 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language
"History of the Bible: New Testament." History World. 11 Dec. 2019 http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=adb1
Johnson, Ben. "Michaelmas." Historic UK. 11 Dec. 2019 https://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Michaelmas/
"Language of the New Testament." 5 Nov. 2019 Wikipedia. 11 Dec. 2019 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_of_the_New_Testament
EVEN MORE STUFF
There are 500,000 words in the English language, give or take. If you learned just one new word a day, it would take you close to 1,400 years to learn them all... and that's if they don't keep adding new words all the time.