Many of us saw the teen sensation movie, Gossip Girl, and if you are one of them, you must have remembered the favorite sign-offs of the girls were XOXO. Not only is it used in films, but also other virtual platforms and personal greetings. So, the burning question is what the meaning of XOXO is? It represents hugs and kisses typically or, more precisely, kiss, hug, kiss, hug. In day to day life, it is commonly used as a lighthearted way of expressing love and affection, deep friendship, or sincerity.
But, for a curious mind, the obvious questions are why out of all 26 alphabets, only those two have been picked up? Or from when and where it came in the common languages? How are they even implying to the gesture of affection and love? Or which letter translates to hugs and which one to kiss? So, now let us move on with decoding the questions.
Why does XO stand for Hugs and kisses?
What we have gathered from source is, no one in particular or even vaguely kept a written record of why were the symbols XOXO used. People candidly inculcated them in letter writing. The source is none other than the professor of linguistics anthropology and semiotics at the University of Toronto. He also happens to be the author of The History of the Kiss: The Birth of Popular Culture. Long story short, there is no absolute answer to the question, “why XOXO means hugs & kisses?”
Derivation of X from Kisses
Prof. Marcel Denasi, who did thorough research in the history of kisses in the process for writing his book, he has given the following explanations. According to him, the X in XOXO has been used in correspondence since the medieval ages. Back in the middle period, there were tonnes of people then who knew either how neither to write nor to read, so they started to use X as a symbol, which stood for Christ, In the name of Christ, it’s true, or I assert.
Now, why did they pick that letter for symbolizing Jesus? It was simple; the reason is that the letter X is regarded as a holy symbol by the Christians as it shares similarities with the Calvary cross on which Jesus was carried, and crucified. Moreover, the Greek word for Christ is ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ (in English -> Xristos), which also starts with the same letter. But somehow, somewhere along the waves of times, it steadily evolved into a way of signing with a dear kiss in the social curriculum.
According to Denasi, he commented that there was a steep cultural shift in placing more considerable significance on love and affection. At that time, women targeted to break all sorts of hindrances and social stereotyping regarding marriage. It was a notion then that woman is given away to the groom’s family, and henceforth, it is their responsibility to take care of her now. Consequently, it agitated to consider them inferior, and they started to revolt so that they can have a say in their very own destiny and to change such male chauvinist barriers. Therefore, the ladies began to choose their love, which means they started to fall in love before their marriages.
Very soon, this mentality spread like a fire in the forest, and more adopted their voice as the decision-maker. How did the couples convey their love to their partners through letters?
The tradition was that people signed and sealed their affectionate letters with the letter X to portray their sincerity. People followed this as they believed that it eventually came to mean they were sealing it with a kiss in a similar way that the Christians kissed the Bible to display their belief in Lord Christ. Did you notice we just answered another question? We also discovered why Christmas is abbreviated as Xmas!
So, coming back to our point, even Denasi believes that people might genuinely physically kissed paper or the scroll. The Oxford English Dictionary then accepted for the first time in 1763 that X came to mean a kiss, which was confirmed in a letter by a priest, Gilbert White. Even president Winston Churchill had signed a letter with three Xs.
In recent times, people have examined and concluded that the symbol X leads to the image when two people kiss what it looks like from the above or in a way, a person’s mouth puckers when they kiss.
Derivation of O from Hugs
As for why XOXO means hugs and kisses, it can be merely put into words that for people who didn’t know how to read or to write, it was easy for them to scribble X and O. Denasi also reported that the game tic-tac-toe was originated in the medieval age. We all know which are the two used to play with; Xs and Os. So, we can safely conclude that these two letters go a long way back. The Washington Post reported, even in 1960, there weren’t a lot of confirmed documents that the hugs were signified as O in the paper.
But there has been one speculation that it was the Jews who put it in trend. When they migrated to the United States of America, they started to sign off their letters with O. The folks refused to adopt X as their sign off as it symbolized Christ; hence, they made their own. It might or might not be the real reason.
Regardless of how it was originated, the letter O can be visualized on the real world and relate to the symbol as a hug. According to Denasi, when one steps inside a circle, it leads to a form of getting enveloped. So, what happens when you genuinely hug someone is that person is not only surrounding the aura but also the physical persona, and eventually, you are indeed making a circle by wrapping your arms around him or her. Now, when in the act, if someone observes form a bird’s eye view, then it completely resembles the letter O.
XOXO implementations and it’s varieties of it
In today’s generation, we somehow do take out variations of a single term, be it for convenience, or to look trendy, and there is always more than one to the collection. Therefore, it is no secret that there are substitutes to XOXO too. We use them frequently in any form like – text, chat, e-mail, or even in a written letter.
- SWAK -> During the times of World War I, sailors and soldiers used to send love letters to their partners by signing off with that acronym, which expands to “sealed with a kiss.” They were pretty thoughtful in expressing their affections in a parchment of paper.
- X -> We have already come across this letter’s importance. It usually means a single kiss. Now, there can be two sides of the coin. X can be used to express romanticism and affectionate friendships, but on the other hand, it can be used as a formal greeting symbol in the same way when you kiss someone on their cheeks formally.
- XOXO -> What does the double Xs and double Os signify? We have already explained the meaning of XOXO, but how it is used to portray in the real world? Well, it is like it not only takes into account your hugs and kisses but also of the other’s person. Henceforth, it is reserved more for romantic couples. But, sometimes occasionally you might find it suitable to use XOXO it with your friends or family members in text messages, or some notes.
- XO -> Now, XO is the truncated version of XOXO. It is a quicker and shorter way to express only one kiss and one hug to your family, beloved friends, or your significant other.
- Hug and Kiss Emojis -> With the reign of Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger, we have now an abundance of choices in electronic emotions or what is commonly known as emojis. Coming over 100s of varieties, among them, there are look-alikes of hugs and kisses emojis, which you can use to send your love in the virtual platform to your loved priorities.
Well, there are a lot of variations in the bucked tagged under XOXO, or in other words, ways to send kisses and hugs. But is it going to flourish only till the Millennial keeps in trending? According to Denasi, he says XOXO has become a tradition, and tradition gets carried on with generations. XOXO will endure many more years to come since it is not quickly going to fade away. Denasi claims that symbols and expressions like XOXO remain, and they will continue to get passed from generation to generation. As for now, we have made changes according to the latest hashtags. So the future batch of humans has to put a little bit effort to repurpose according to their time. Furthermore, then the symbol will bear the same relevance and also the emotions into it as opinioned by Denasi.
XOXO in Weddings Ideas
XOXO can make a suitable theme for a wedding. It has an aura which emphasizes on roots in material love and physical attraction. Hence no motif can be better than this to get incorporated. The creative director and owner of Jenny Orsini Events, Jenny Orsini, shares her views regarding this, she supports the inculcation in the weddings as XOXO is a universally accepted code for hugs and kisses. During a wedding, the room is filled with immense support and unconditional love. Therefore, XOXO will be a perfect fit in that environment. Surprisingly there are many ways to do this.
1. XOXO in Wedding Invitations
The invitation cards can be either engraved or stamped with XOXO graphic designs. Orsini suggests hiring a professional graphic designer so that he/she can incorporate the graphic into your wedding smoothly, and gives a bright, distinct, legible tone.
The tone gives an idea of a warm welcoming and an event full of love and laughter. The professional designers can the perfect XOXO graphic style, which will consequently lead to a cohesive visual throughout the wedding.
The XOXO symbol can be inscribed in other wedding stationeries, such as table cards, escort cards, and menu.
2. XOXO in Cocktail Hour
According to the creative lead of wedding planning and the founder of design company Chancey Charm, Sarh Chancey says that incorporation of Xs and Os works splendidly during the cocktail hour. Moreover, it gives the vibe of a social and intimate feel. When you use such symbols, you are asking the guests to have fun, stay relaxed, and maybe even try to make a little connection on their own. She suggests serving the cocktails with X and O shaped ice cubes, additionally decorating with swizzle sticks of XOXO.
Other cocktail accessories like napkins, it can be inscribed XOXO in it. A little game can be organized; guests can find and sit together in tables with similar shapes of X and O.
3. XOXO in Wedding Cakes
The wedding cake is a piece de resistance of the holy ceremony, which makes an ideal place to integrate XOXO. For an exquisite and elegant appearance, you can crown the desserts with an XOXO cake topper. You should make sure that the XOXO should be metallic and of course, shiny so that everyone eyes on it. Now, if you want to go for a more modernized way, Orsini advice to ask your professional designer to make an XOXO pattern in fondant ice. To give the latest spin, cover the cake with it.
Chancey has a different outlook; she says to go for a dessert bar instead of an enormous wedding cake. She asks to cook the cupcakes with X and O shapes and sizes. That will make a sweet treat and will boost the decor quotients.
4. XOXO in Wedding Décor
Let me start this one with a warning that comes from Orsini; incorporating XOXO at the wedding is a lovely gesture, but make sure it doesn’t become too much Xs and Os at the wedding, that appear to look like a cluster of tic-tac-toe. You don’t want to overwhelm your guests with it.
Examples of most common internet slangs
TBT: Throwback Thursday
LOL: Laughing Out Loud
IDK: I don’t Know
LMAO: Laughing My Ass Off
So, you can use it subtly, like placing it in the bar or your partner’s table. Use a metal tabletop of Xs and Os to give a shiny outlook.