School children in the sixteenth century worked lessons on a thin wooden board that hung from their belts.
On it were printed the alphabet, the numbers, and the Lord’s Prayer.
Because it was preceded by a Maltese cross the alphabet was called the Christ-cross-row.
Students reciting from the board always began with the prayer, “Christ’s cross be my speed.”
Two centuries later, Christ’s cross had become “criss-cross.”
Eventually, the term criss-cross evolved to mean back and forth.