Wishing someone a Merry Xmas may yield numerous responses. If these words are uttered to a linguist, that person is likely to understand that no disrespect is intended. On the other hand, saying Xmas to other people may result in indifference, a sense of inclusion or a direct insult. It’s important to understand how this word came about and why, from a linguistic prospective, the person insulted has no basis for their feelings.
X is a symbol for the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter in the Greek form of the word Christ. Abbreviations, dating back many hundreds of years, may have written Christmas as Xtemas or Xmas. They specifically reference Christ, and are by no means a way of commercializing Christmas or minimizing Christ’s importance. As an abbreviation, when people wrote the term, they usually still pronounced the word as Christmas if they read it aloud. It was simply a convention that could speed up writing that was used as far back as the 11th century. Xmas isn’t the only abbreviated use of the word Christ. There are other derivatives like Xtianity and Xtian (Christianity and Christian) that have been used by various writers for centuries
The term Xmas may also reference a common symbol in Christianity called the labarum. This symbol looks like an X written over a capital letter P. Since the word Christ was often written as XP, this is again a direct reference to Jesus’ name. People of various Christian denominations may be well used to seeing this symbol associated with Christ without knowing its origins.
The common misconceptions about the word Xmas are numerous. Some believe the X literally crosses out Christ’s name and is meant to remove any Christian implications from Christmas. Others believe the X is a commercially motivated symbol that shows inherent disrespect to Christ, and that the word was promulgated by retailers to save money on advertisements. A few think that the term Xmas is a good replacement for Christmas because then it’s possible to avoid saying "Seasons Greetings" to people who may not be practicing Christians. A more charitable view of the term is that X symbolizes the cross on which Christ was crucified, though this is inaccurate because the shape of the cross is not correct.
As proven by much written evidence, the term emerged as an abbreviation, in reference to Greek and means no disrespect. However, language is constantly evolving, and what a word means today may not be at all what it means fifty years from now. Since people may take offense at the term, they have breathed into it meaning that was never intended. Even if that interpretation is historically inaccurate, it nevertheless becomes a part of the way the word is perceived. It therefore makes good sense to consider how others will interpret a greeting like Merry Xmas, and whether this heartfelt wish will insult rather than please those who hear it.