When did we first start using Xmas instead of Christmas and why do some find it offensive?

Tis the season for peace on earth and goodwill toward men ... unless you use the word Xmas instead of Christmas with the wrong person.

What does Xmas mean, when did we first start using it and why do some people get so offended by it?

As you scramble to finish shopping and get those Christmas cards written, here are answers to some of your questions.

What does Xmas mean?

The word Xmas comes from the combination of the words "Christ" and "mass," according to several websites, including Grammarly.

The "mas" in Xmas comes from the Old English word for mass.

How does X mean Christ?

Xmas, like many English words, originates in the Greek language.

The Greek word for Christ is Christós, and the first letter of Christós is Chi. In Greek, the word for “Christ” is Χριστός. Written in the Greek alphabet, Chi is essentially the same as the English letter Χ, according to YourDictionary.com.

Over time, X became an abbreviation for Christ, and Christmas became Xmas.

How long has Xmas been used as an abbreviation for Christmas?

Using Xmas as shorthand for Christmas has been around since at least the year 1021, well before TV ads and shopping extravaganzas, according to most scholars.

In 1021, "an Anglo-Saxon scribe saved himself space by writing XPmas," reported First Things. Parchment paper was expensive, much more so than paper we toss so readily today.

The scribe wrote "on Xp̄es mæsse uhtan," which translates to “on the morning of Christmas.”

Ways to save space on parchment were welcomed, so the abbreviation stuck and eventually was shortened to Xmas.

Over the centuries, Xmas kept appearing

In 1799, the poet Samual Taylor Coleridge used “Xstmas” as a Christmas abbreviation in a letter, dated Dec. 31, 1799. Here, he refers to his poem "A Christmas Carol":

Lewis Carroll also used “Xmas” in a letter in 1864.

By the 15th century, Xmas had emerged as a widely used symbol for Christmas, according to The Voice.

In 1436, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press with moveable type. In the early days of printing typesetting was done by hand and was tedious and expensive, making abbreviations common.

In religious publications, the church began to use the abbreviation C, or X, for the word "Christ" to cut down on price of books and pamphlets. From there, the abbreviation moved into general use in newspapers and other publications, according to The Voice.

Webster’s dictionary reported Xmas was commonly used by the middle of the 16th century.

In 1898, Canada issued a postage stamp with the word Xmas on it.

Xmas can be pronounced both as Christmas — just as if the word were written out in full — or "exmas," according to Webster Dictionary.

Why is there controversy over the use of Xmas instead of Christmas?

Some people feel Xmas is a disrespectful abbreviation for Christmas, according to several website, arguing the X is intended to replace Christ with a secular symbol and that it removes Christ from Christmas.

Public debates and arguments over the use of the term Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas have added fuel to the fire, according to The Voice.

So why do people keep using Xmas?

Simply put, shorthand is still alive and well today, even though we don't spare a thought on the waste of paper — judging by the amount of junk mail that gets tossed into garbage cans every day.

Consider our shortened phrases we use daily when texting and businesses that have abbreviated their names.

Bottom line: Whether you use Xmas or Christmas, the meaning is the same

Whether you write Xmas or Christmas, the meaning is the same, according to YourDictionary.

When did we first start saying Merry Christmas?

Wishing someone a Merry Christmas has been around since at least 1534, when bishop John Fisher wrote a letter to Henry VIII's chief minister Thomas Cromwell, although it was written as “mery Christenmas.

There's also the English carol, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," which was appeared in the 1500s.

Why do we say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Christmas?

Why do we say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Christmas, especially since we say Happy Birthday and Happy New Year?

While the U.S. tends to say Merry Christmas, but Happy Christmas is widely used in England, according to CountryLiving.

Get ready for a little grammar.

Happy is a state of being, an inner emotional condition. Merry has more behavior to it, being active or raucous, according to CountryLiving. Queen Elizabeth wished her citizens a "Happy Christmas," rather than a merry one.

And another bit of trivia: The word merry was considered lower class because it also meant “slightly drunk or tipsy.”

This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Xmas vs Christmas: Why offensive, origins, history