The following is an excerpt from Kel Richards’ tract Christmas Wordwatch (Matthias Media, Kingsford, 2006).
“The word ‘Christmas’ first appears in something called the Old English Chronicle almost a thousand years ago (in the year 1123 to be precise). It comes from the late Old English expression Cristes maesse. And this Old English word maesse comes from a Latin word missa which dates even further back – way back to the fourth century (and from which we get our familiar English word ‘dismissal’). Back in those days the church services were in Latin, which was the language of the ordinary people of the Roman Empire at the time. They ended with this particular Latin word – basically meaning “church is over, you are dismissed” – although it was meant more politely than that. And because that was the last word in the church service, it became the name for church services. So Latin missa (in Old English maesse) was the ancient word for church service. In other words, when the word ‘Christmas’ was coined a thousand years or so ago, it literally meant ‘Christ’s church service’ – the church service celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. So when you pop into church at Christmas, what you’re doing is keeping a bit of history alive”.
Christmas is such a fun time of year! Come and join us for: