What is the origin of the term “Christmas?”

Here are two explanations of the derivation of the word “Christmas.”

1. The word Christ stems from the Middle and Old English word Crist meaning the anointed one, the Lord’s Anointed.

It is borrowed from the Latin Christus and from the Greek Christos also meaning the anointed one. The Greek is a translation of Hebrew mashiach meaning anointed of the Lord or Messiah. In the word Christmas, the suffix -mas evolves from the Old English word maesse meaning festival, feast day or mass.

And from Wikipedia:

 2. Christmas derivative of Christ and Mass.

Mass is the term used of the celebration of the Eucharist in the Latin rites of the Roman Catholic Church. The word itself is derived from the phrase with which the liturgical celebration concludes in Latin, Ite, missa est. In this phrase, the word missa is usually explained as late Latin for classical Latin missio, so that the phrase would be literally translated as: “Go, it is the sending.”

As much as I like Wikipedia’s explanation, I think the first one is the correct one. Having said that, what the second explanation loses on the swings, it gains on the roundabouts. What I mean is that even if it is an error, this error, although a loss, is always a-gain. Why? Let us assume that “mas” in Christmas does mean mass = sent. We then get “Christ sent”.

The Roman Catholic “Mass,”  besides being  the place where one receives the Eucharist, is also where one is given one’s marching orders – to go into the world and live and speak the Good News: Ite, missa est. Christ-mas then becomes a remembrance of the time when the Son of God was given His marching orders. Christ could have marched into our world at the head of a great army of angels, or erupted into the world like a missile, but instead he was born  into this world as a helpless child. And died  helpless a man(the Passion of Christ – passion in latin means “passive”).

The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. And was torn for us. If you believe this, then the “us” is you.

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45 thoughts on “What is the origin of the term “Christmas?”

  1. The actual holiday we celebrate Christmas replaced a pagan holiday–praise God! And the Christmas trees and the lights are actually pagan. Many people don’t know that much of the things we put around the house to celebrate Christmas come from the pagans. Also, and this is just kind of interesting…but Santa takes the focus off of Jesus..and if you switch around the letters you have Satan.

      • I think there are “MANY” Christians, to be honest, who say they are Christian, but live in the state of luke warm. The Bible tells us that God would rather us be cold or hot, but those who are luke warm shall be vomited from His mouth. I do believe that this is why the anger of the Lord burns inside of me when I see websites watering down His word, and making Jesus Christ out to be our friend..even a song, “I am a friend of God.” God is not our friend, nor is Jesus…we are slaves of God. Sounds awful, but it’s true. I don’t remember the Greek word, but the original Greek word was supposed to have been translated Slave; yet the translators felt this was too harsh sounding and translated it “servant.” We were made to serve God, not the other way around. God does not serve us. He blesses us when we obey Him and love Him, but does not serve us. He loves us very much, yet, we are either a slave to Satan (sin) or a slave to God (righteousness). Those are our only options. There is now watered down in between. Furthermore, for those who are offended by this statement, it’s too bad. The whole reason we were made was to serve Him. The only reason our heart continues to beat every day is because He allows it to. The only reason our lungs continuing taking in air and exhaling is because He allows it to. He is our master. He is our Creator. The sooner people realize we are smaller than a mere atom in the presence of a God that is so huge our minds can’t fathom, the better… Yet he knows the number of every hair on each of our heads. God bless you!

        • Lynn, what about John 15? 14 “You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17“This I command you, that you love one another.

          John MacArthur has a sermon on Christians being slaves of Christ. I think he overdoes it. The NT says believers in Jesus are “children” of God (nine times).

          Slaves in biblical times often preferred their condition, because the alternative was starvation. So they were totally dependent on their master. In that sense we are God’s slaves, and I say, very good, as you do. As you know, slaves in biblical times and ancient Greece and Rome, were often given senior positions, unlike the slaves of the “slave trade” of, for example, the 16th to 19th centuries, and even today in the Middle East.

          • Obviously, you have you read John Macarthur’s book, The Gospel According To Jesus.. I read it too..and I agree with him. Yes…the Bible does say this..but when He said slaves here, He meant we were no longer slaves to darkness, sin. We are His children at the same time, but we are either a slave to sin or a slave to the Kingdom of Heaven. What I am trying to explain is that in all of the places in the NT where it says servant, the actual greek word was actually a word that meant slave. As far as friends, I am speaking from the perspective of this watered down idea that Jesus is just this wishy washy buddy of ours and that we can do whatver we want and still live like the world; God won’t be mad because we’re friends with Jesus. And, the idea that since He died on the cross, it makes it okay for us to sin.

          • the word Friend when Jesus uses it .Is referring to a Covenant Partner, and beneficiary of His Blood Covenant with His Father. Of which all true believers are brought into. Do an indepth sudy on Blood Covenant’s.Especially the most important one for all time,and eternity, at Calvary! Pastor Theo Wolmerans wrote a very in depth book on the subject. It will change your life,and outlook as to how God see’s you in Christ!

        • Hello Lyn, Just read your comment and thought how much in synch you were with the Prophet Muhammad (peace on all the prophets) on this same topic regarding the ‘Slave of God’ idea.

          Narrated ‘Umar (radhiAllāhu ‘anhu): I heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, “Do not exaggerate in praising me as the Christians praised the son of Mary, for I am only a Slave. So, call me the Slave of Allāh and His Apostle.” [Sahīh Bukhārī Vol. 4, Hadīth no. 654 (English Translation). Translated by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khān]

          (Don’t mean any disrespect. Just thought I’d share this after chance-reading your statement. That’s all.)

          Peace to you. And to the Admin, here.

          • If you created something Stephen would you call yourself the owner of that particular thing and would you expect that thing to behave in the manner that you as the creator designed it too behave. What you created is in other words a slave to you as it has to behave in the manner that you designed it too. God gave us a free will and it is our choice to commit our life to Him and to live in obedience to His commandments. God loves you as your creator and heavenly father.

            • Hi Kobus, thank you visiting. You said, “God loves you as your creator and heavenly father.” I infer that “you” means all people without exception, who you consider to be children of God (no so?). Do you have a Bible text to illustrate this position?

              Second, any NT texts to illustrate “God gave us a free will and it is our choice to commit our life to Him and to live in obedience to His commandments?”


              • https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsThe most relevant Bible verse for me to demonstrate God’s love for sinners and a free will is John 3:16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’
                Revelation 7:9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
                NT that refer to free will.
                Revelation 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
                Galations 5: 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

                • Thank you for your reply, Kobus.

                  1. How do you understand “whosoever” is related to “free will?””

                  2. I don’t see how Revelation 3:20 relates to “free will?”

                  3. How does “called to be free” relate to being free to be called to be free?

                  I would appreciate your explanations very much.

      • Sabrikudi.

        Can you see the “Passion.”

        Rushing through the snow…jingle nails, jingle nails, jingle all the way. Oh what fun…

        Hey, someone will say, that’s about Jesus dying, not being born. I say, “You don’t get it – Jesus was born to die.”

    • If you believe in giving pegons what is God’s then you are right, but that is your own beliefs, not spiritual facts. Everyday is Gods. Every plant and tree is Gods, not pegons.

    • No Christmas did not replace a pagan holiday The pagan holiday was designated because the newly-formed Christians were celebrating Christ’s birth, and of course Pagan Rome did not want anything to do with this ! Do your research as l did and you’ll find out I’m right.

  2. ….Is my writing visible at least? not considering the fact that I could not be welcomed here too and it is acceptable even if I don’t understand the reason 🙂 But there are so many things I don’t understand the reasons for…one more to add to the bunch

      • I like your new blog features. It is cute and the greenie bit is funny 🙂 I don’t have photos posted on the internet in websites….perhaps excluding one. If the greenies are confusing, I will change my costume here :-). Anyway there was a question I wanted to ask. I was just writing before I read your post about the fact that Jesus had to do what he had to do as is said in Luke’s finding of Jesus in the temple…Christ sent looks like a good way of seeing somehow the ‘had to do’ aspect of his mission. Do you agree?

        • Maria, first let me say that you’re a Godsend.

          With regard to salvation, I understand the connection between “sent” and “had to do” (had to take on a human nature – in order to die and rise again) to be this: First, the Son wants, says and does everything the Father wants Him to say and do. They are equal in their divine nature but as distinct persons they have different roles (the Holy Spirit as well, of course). So the divine plan of salvation is a “Let us.” The Father then sends the Son. The plan, once decided, WILL be done. In that sense it had to be done. The plan is always perfect. The book of Hebrews explains why God “had to” send his Son into the world to die and rise again.

          Whether another plan of salvation was considered in Heaven, who knows? Let’s face it, it is a glorious plan. Such joy!

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  4. Well said. You are one of the few who heard the voice of God, began opening your eyes and came out from among them and set yourself apart from the lost majority who profess to be Christians. Jesus said many will go to hell and only a few will really enter and find that road that leads to life. How true that is when you look around and how the devil has deceived billions even people who aren’t Christians are celebrating pagan holidays just like Xmas- a multi billion dollar business. Its also an insult to to say that he began or created just like everyone else coming from two people having sex because that’s not the case. People like you and me have “birth days” but Jesus always existed and in fact he is God. I’m just thinking would these people still say Merry Xmas or say happy birthday to Jesus when they get to heaven every Dec 24. It’s like saying happy birthday God. People are so blinded by religion and pagan tradition that they don’t even know they are committing blasphemy to the highest level. Hope we can talk more about this and convince others of their false faith.

  5. My husband and I got to discussing the term “Christmas” this morning, and its origins, so we did some research on the subject together. We weren’t looking at the celebration, per se, but rather just the word. I found a really good (in my estimation) article on the subject, though this is not to say that I agree with its entire content, but it is a worthy and well-researched article, from what I can tell. So, I posted it to my children, and one of my children posted back to me this (your) article, so I read this one, as well. I have to say that I agree more with this one I read – http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org/tracts/tract4.html. Sue Love

  6. One additional thought here. My husband and I made the decision back in 2012, I believe it was, to discontinue the celebration of Christmas, as we had always done since our childhoods. We never did the Santa thing with our kids, but we did the other traditional things people do on Christmas Day, thinking we were honoring God and celebrating our Lord’s birth. But, many years prior to this I began to question “why” we do this. I wondered, “Where is Jesus in all of this?” “What does this have to do with honoring our Lord?” I kept seeing the greed, the commercialism, the expectations, and I didn’t see that we were actually doing anything to bring honor and glory to the name of Jesus, other than if we sang in a Christmas Cantata which taught the gospel.

    So, we began phasing it out, at least some of it, until we both reached the conclusion that we could no longer do this. This was a very difficult decision, because by now we had grandchildren, and there were certain expectations established as a family, but we had to follow our consciences and the Word of God and do what we believed was right, and leave the results to God. So, this is the writing God gave me on this subject then – https://cfservant.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/pagan-revelry/. Sue Love

    • Hi thank you for your interesting thoughts on the matter. I agree with you about Christmas. It’s unbiblical. As for all the presents, it’s not moi or my kids that should get presents but Jesus. And what better present to give the Lord but to sit and be in his presence.

      • Yes, but not only to sit and be in his presence, but to give our lives to him, as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our acceptable service of worship of him; no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed in heart and mind, of the Spirit of God, away from sin and to faithful walks of obedience to him. This is what he asks of us, and this is what we should give him, and this would be honoring to him, if it is truly him we are celebrating. Wouldn’t you agree?

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