What is the X in X-mas?
(from Greek tropaion, from trope, "rout"), in ancient Greece, memorial of victory set up on the field of battle at the spot where the enemy had been routed. It consisted of captured arms and standards hung upon a tree or stake in the semblance of a man and was inscribed with details of the battle along with a dedication to a god or gods. After a naval victory, the trophy, composed of whole ships or their beaks, was laid out on the nearest beach. To destroy a trophy was regarded as a sacrilege since, as an object dedicated to a god, it must be left to decay naturally. The Romans continued the custom but usually preferred to construct trophies in Rome, with columns or triumphal arches serving the purpose in imperial times. Outside Rome, there are remains of huge stone memorials, once crowned by stone trophies, built by Augustus in 7/6 BC at La Turbie (near Nice, Fr.) and by Trajan c. AD 109 at Adamclisi in eastern Romania.