re: Χριστός-mas

Today is Christmas Day, a US federal holiday that coincides with the Christian holiday Christmas. Christ is a transliteration of the Greek word Χριστός, which means “smeared with oil.” In the ancient Mediterranean, people smeared themselves with vegetable oil in much the same way that we use petroleum-based hair conditioners and skin lotion. But the Hebrew and Jewish peoples had a tradition of ritual smearing for kings; in this sense, the first Christians called Jesus the Christ to proclaim him rightful King of the Jews. Later Christians redefined the term to mean something else, since kings don't usually end up crucified before they take office.