The Meaning of Christmas, Literally... Might Surprise The Masses
The roots of the word “Christmas” express two kinds of liberation (of, and from, the masses) with some shortening. Much that matters is hidden in the unsung history of words, and their translations... there's the rub...
Jag Bhalla is an entrepreneur, inventor and writer. His current project is Errors We Live By, a series of short exoteric essays exposing errors in the big ideas running our lives, details at www.errorsweliveby.com. His last book was I'm Not Hanging Noodles On Your Ears, a surreptitious science gift book from National Geographic Books, details at www.hangingnoodles.com. That explains his twitter handle @hangingnoodles.
The roots of the word “Christmas” rub two kinds of liberation (of, and from, the masses) with some shortening:
1. “Christ” was born of many translations — via Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, (mashiah, mĕšīḥā, khristos, Christus).
2. “Mashiah” means the anointed, a shortening of the “Lord’s anointed” — refers to rubbing oil on someone’s forehead to signify divine office.
4. That liberator aspect explains Jesus’s crucifixion — Roman’s exclusively crucified agitators against their rule.
5. The idea that Jesus was crucified with thieves rests on a lax translation of “lestes” = Greek for “bandits” = catchall term for robbers and anti-Roman rebels.
7. Aside: Crisco was almost called Cryst, (a shortening of crystallized cottonseed oil).
8. The tail end of Christmas shortens the Christian sense of “mass,” from Latin “missa” = dismissal, release. Eucharist (thanksgiving) services end in “Ite, missa est,” meaning "Go, (the prayer) has been sent," marking the liberation of the masses from the mass.
However you interpret, or translate, this: Wishing You Happy Holidays.
Give thanks for whatever happiness your liberties enable.
PS—Happiness should be a verb.
PPS—Happiness is confusing our smartest scientists (by mathematical mistranslation).
PPPS—New limits are needed for the logic of liberty to work.
Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions