What's up with the word xian? I mean are you really so anti-christian you can't bring yourself to use the word "christ"? Really? It just seems to be a deliberate way to offend, and that seems kind of intolerant to me. We expect intolerance from religions. Atheists should be above that sort of thing. OK, defend the use of the word xian. Show me where I'm wrong.
Just wanted to thank the poster for the intent of the post. We as atheists should set an example. I hope most atheists are kind and positive. There is a massive gathering of atheists in DC scheduled for March and I hope it isn't a bunch of angry jerks. However, the answer about the Greek letter "chi" (pro KEY) has often stood for Christ even when being used by the devout. I feel using xian in a blog or a book is needless and distracting though. I love Christmas in my own secular way, I don't say xmas. Like Penn Jillette says, kill em with kindness and love. Show them why Christianity's idea of love is not as robust as it could be. I consider myself a humanist atheist. :)
Thanks Tim. It's nice to know that for the most part, this is not being used as a taunting device. A lot of Christians seem to think you can not be decent person unless you believe God is threatening to barbecue you. We need to prove them wrong!
I'm not sure about the actual origins of the shortening to xmas and xian (not one I'd heard a lot before btw) but I like the Greek explanation.
However, I had always been told that the X sybolised (sp?) the cross and was kind of inter-changeable with the christ part of the words.
I've never used the word xian when talking about christians or christianity. Xian is a city in Central China, and that's it. I have no desire to shorten any religious terms (or to capitalize them).