X, the Kiss

The Greek word for “Messiah” is “Christos” — or Χριστος to use the Greek alphabet — and it begins, as you can see, with a character that looks like the Western X (or a Chi as you’d know if you studied Greek or if you were ever in a fraternity).

In legal tradition dating back centuries, when you signed your name to a legal document, it was practice to sign your name beneath the phrase, “As Christ is my witness.” It was further tradition to kiss the document in order to seal it and prove your honesty.

For those who were non-literate and couldn’t sign their name, the X alone was signed as an abbreviation for the phrase involving Christos. And, with the following act of kissing the X, over time the letter X itself came to represent a kiss.

Is this folk etymology? Perhaps. A cursory search didn’t turn up anything except this Wikipedia article about hugs and kisses, and that one doesn’t cite any sources.

But assuming this isn’t a fabrication, now you know why you sign your mushy love letters with XOXOXOX. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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