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Every year, even before Halloween on Oct. 31, Christmas worms its way into stores and shops everywhere like a spastic reflex. With the dawn of December, merchants and customers are in a fervor about Christmas. I often hear people spell “Christmas” as “X-mas” and talk about “X-mas” this and “X-mas” that. If I ask how one spells the word Christmas, I am given “X-mas” in reply, as if people do not recognize that it is an abbreviation of some other word to begin with.

In Japanese junior/senior high school textbooks, I have even seen Christmas written like that with no explanation. The situation is made worse because many native-English speakers also say “X-mas” and themselves do not know what the “X” means or why the abbreviation is spelled with an “X.”

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