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Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

John Lennon in the film 'How I won the war'

At this time of the year, in the UK at least, music stations on the radio start to broadcast songs from the category generally accepted as "Christmas songs". Some examples are Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade, I Believe in Father Christmas (Greg Lake) and Stop the Cavalry (Jona Lewie). John Lennon is well represented in the category through his songs Imagine and Happy Xmas (War Is Over).

The use of the term "Xmas" to refer to Christmas has long been a cause of disagreement. Some people believe that using "X" as an abbreviation for "Christ" is disrespectful and that it comes from a wish to save space on the printed page, or even that it is motivated by a wish to reduce the religious aspect of Christmas. In reality, while both of these factors may have played a role on occasion, the use of the Latin letter "X" in this context comes from the fact that the Greek letter "Chi" (which looks like an "X") is the first letter of the Greek word "Christos", or Christ. Based on this, variants of "Xmas" have been used to denote "Christmas" in print since the 16th century, often in texts with a religious dimension, which would certainly have had no intention of showing disrespect. Nevertheless, the term "Xmas" continues to be controversial, even today.

The word "over" in the sense of “finished” may seem a little strange, although it’s very common. Perhaps it comes from the idea of bad weather, such as a storm, which approaches and then passes over us. When the storm has finished, and done its worst, we may feel a sense of relief that now the storm has passed over us and moved on to inconvenience people in some other location. In this way, the storm is physically "over". Maybe this idea has been adapted over time to refer to any event that comes to an end. Hence, we may say, The show is over, The game is over, The party is over, or even My life is over. Whether we’ll ever be able to say truthfully that War is over is open to discussion. But there’s always hope.