Thursday, August 13, 2009

Christmas in August: A Quiz

What better time for a Christmas quiz than in August, when Christmas is still far away from most peoples' minds. Actually, this is me trying to clear out my year-old "Things to blog about" list...

This is an old quiz that was used at a holiday party at one of my old jobs. There are some interesting facts in here - enjoy!

Question #1
The first instrument on which the carol "Silent Night" was played was:
A) A harp
B) A pipe organ
C) A guitar
D) A kazoo

Question #2
In Guatemala, Christmas Day is celebrated:
A) On January 6
B) On December 25
C) On October 31
D) Never

Question #3
Electric Christmas tree lights were first used in:
A) 1944
B) 1895
C) 1976
D) 1492

Question #4
Good King Wenceslas was king of which country?
A) Abyssinia
B) England
C) Bohemia
D) Gondor

Question #5
Medieval English Christmas pantomimes did NOT include which character?
A) St. Nicholas
B) The Bold Slasher
C) Father Christmas
D) The Turkish Knight

Question #6
The name of Scrooge's deceased business partner in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was:
A) Bob Cratchit
B) Jerry Cornelius
C) Bill Sykes
D) Jacob Marley

Question #7
In North America, children put stockings out at Christmas time. Their Dutch counterparts use:
A) Old hats
B) Beer mugs
C) Shoes
D) Stockings, just like everybody else!

Question #8
The poinsettia, a traditional Christmas flower, originally grew in which country?
A) Canada
B) China
C) Mexico
D) Spain

Question #9
Which name does NOT belong to one of Santa's reindeer?
A) Comet
B) Prancer
C) Blitzen
D) Klaxon

Question #10
In Syria, Christmas gifts are distributed by:
A) The Three Kings
B) Tom o'Bedlam
C) One of the Wise Men's camels
D) Father Christmas

Question #11
One notable medieval English Christmas celebration featured:
A) A giant, 165-pound pie
B) Snowball fights between rival courtiers
C) A swimming race across the English Channel
D) Huge crackers that sometimes exploded fatally

Question #12
In Australia, usual Boxing Day activities include:
A) Building snowmen
B) Tobogganing
C) Wombat hunting
D) Surfing

Question #13
In Sweden, a common Christmas decoration is the Julbukk, a small figurine of a goat. It is usually made of what material?
A) Candy
B) Straw
C) Uranium
D) Fir wood

Question #14
The real St. Nicholas lived:
A) At the North Pole
B) On the island of Malta
C) In Turkey
D) In Holland

Question #15
Which of the following was not one of the Three Kings?
A) Caspar
B) Balthazar
C) Teleost
D) Melchior

Question #16
In Armenia, the traditional Christmas Eve meal consists of:
A) Fried fish, lettuce and spinach
B) Square meat pies
C) Broiled partridges with gooseberry sauce
D) Turkey and plum pudding

Question #17
In Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker, the Nutcracker's main enemy is:
A) A girl called Clara
B) The King of the Mice
C) Dr. Almond
D) Drosselmeyer the magician

Question #18
The day after Christmas, December 26, is known as Boxing Day. It is also the holy day of which saint?
A) St. Eustace
B) St. Brigit
C) St. Nicholas
D) St. Stephen

Question #19
In Greek legend, malicious creatures called Kallikantzaroi sometimes play troublesome pranks at Christmas time. To get rid of them, you should:
A) Placate them with gifts of rice pudding
B) Burn either salt or an old shoe
C) Sing hymns in a loud voice
D) Throw your sandals at them

Question #20
When visiting Finland, Santa leaves his sleigh behind and rides on:
A) Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
B) A giant ptarmigan
C) A goat named Ukko
D) A flying carpet

Question #21
A boar's head is a traditional Christmas dish. According to a popular story, the unlucky boar whose head began the custom in the Middle Ages was killed by:
A) Choking to death on a book of Greek philosophy
B) King Wenceslas, who speared it from horseback
C) A falling fir tree
D) Remorse, after goring St. Nicholas

Question #22
When distributing gifts in Holland, St. Nicholas is accompanied by:
A) His wife Lucy
B) His servant, Black Peter
C) Thirteen elves
D) St. Stephen

Question #23
At Christmas, it is customary to exchange kisses beneath a sprig of which plant?
A) Ivy
B) Yew
C) Holly
D) Mistletoe

Question #24
Believe it or not, one Indiana town is called:
A) Christmasville
B) Wenceslas
C) Noel
D) Santa Claus

Question #25
Who was the author of A Christmas Carol?
A) Mark Twain
B) Charles Dickens
C) Hans Christian Andersen
D) Thomas M. Sawyer

Question #26
Which popular Christmas song was actually first written for Thanksgiving?
A) "Away in a Manger"
B) "Frosty the Snowman"
C) "Jingle Bells"
D) "Joy to the World"

Question #27
A favorite Christmas story is Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in...
A) Maryland
B) Boarding School
C) Wales
D) China

Question #28
In 1647, the English parliament passed a law that:
A) Made Christmas illegal
B) Recognized Christmas as an official holiday
C) Let prisoners spend Christmas Day at home
D) Gave Santa immunity to break-and-enter charges

Question #29
The world's largest Christmas cracker was made (and pulled) in which country?
A) Sweden
B) Australia
C) England
D) The United States

Question #30
The poem commonly known as The Night Before Christmas was originally titled:
A) Santa's Secret Visit
B) A Visit from St. Nicholas
C) The Night Before Christmas
D) The Midnight Guest

Here are the answers...

1) The first instrument on which the carol Silent Night was played was: C) A guitar. The carol was first sung as part of a church service in Oberndorf, Austria. The unusual choice of guitar for the accompaniment rather than the traditional church organ has given rise to a number of picturesque stories (the organ bellows had been damaged by mice; the organ had been sabotaged; etc.), but in fact it was simply a matter of preference on the part of the author, Joseph Mohr.

2) In Guatemala, Christmas Day is celebrated: B) On December 25. Guatemalan adults, however, do not exchange gifts until New Year's Day. Children get theirs (from the Christ Child) on Christmas morning.

3) Electric Christmas tree lights were first used in: B) 1895. The idea for using electric Christmas lights came from an American, Ralph E. Morris. The new lights proved safer than the traditional candles.

NB: A correspondent has informed us that the General Electric company claims to have originated Christmas tree lighting in 1882, fully 13 years earlier than the date given in our answer. Unfortunately, we do not have access to an independent authority who could settle the matter beyond argument. In either case, however, answer (B) is clearly the best of the four choices given, so we will let it stand until further information becomes available.

4) Good King Wenceslas was king of which country? C) Bohemia. The historical Wenceslas was actually only Duke of Bohemia, not a king. He lived in the tenth century.

5) Medieval English Christmas pantomimes did not include which character? A) St. Nicholas. In Medieval England, Nicholas was just another saint - he had not yet metamorphosed into Santa Claus and had nothing to do with Christmas.

6) The name of Scrooge's deceased business partner in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was: D) Jacob Marley. Jacob Marley's spirit was the first of four to appear to Scrooge on Christmas Eve.

7) In North America, children put stockings out at Christmas time. Their Dutch counterparts use: C) Shoes. Traditionally, the shoes used are wooden ones called sabots.

8) The poinsettia, a traditional Christmas flower, originally grew in which country? C) Mexico. In Mexico, the poinsettia is known as the 'Flower of the Holy Night'. It was first brought to America by Joel Poinsett in 1829.

9) Which name does not belong to one of Santa's reindeer? D) Klaxon. A klaxon is actually an electric horn.

10) In Syria, Christmas gifts are distributed by: C) One of the Wise Men's camels. The gift-giving camel is said to have been the smallest one in the Wise Men's caravan.

11) One notable medieval English Christmas celebration featured: A) A giant, 165-pound pie. The giant pie was nine feet in diameter. Its ingredients included 2 bushels of flour, 20 pounds of butter, 4 geese, 2 rabbits, 4 wild ducks, 2 woodcocks, 6 snipes, 4 partridges, 2 neats' tongues, 2 curlews, 6 pigeons and 7 blackbirds.

12) In Australia, usual Boxing Day activities include: D) Surfing. In Australia, as everywhere in the southern hemisphere, Christmas comes in the middle of summer.

13) In Sweden, a common Christmas decoration is the Julbukk, a small figurine of a goat. It is usually made of what material? B) Straw. A variety of straw decorations are a usual feature of Scandinavian Christmas festivities.

14) The real St. Nicholas lived: C) In Turkey. St. Nicholas was bishop of the Turkish town of Myra in the early 4th century. It was the Dutch who first made him into a Christmas gift-giver, and Dutch settlers brought him to America where his name eventually became the familiar Santa Claus.

15) Which of the following was not one of the Three Kings? C) Teleost. A teleost is actually a bony fish.

16) In Armenia, the traditional Christmas Eve meal consists of: A) Fried fish, lettuce and spinach. The meal was eaten after the Christmas Eve service, in commemoration of the supper eaten by Mary on the evening before Christ's birth.

17) In Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker, the Nutcracker's main enemy is: B) The King of the Mice. The King of the Mice, usually represented with seven heads, leads his troops against the nutcracker's toy soldiers, but loses the battle when Clara, the heroine, stuns him with a hurled shoe.

18) The day after Christmas, December 26, is known as Boxing Day. It is also the holy day of which saint? D) St. Stephen. And here, we used to say: St. Stephen, a 9th century Swedish missionary, is the patron saint of horses. Further research, and a kind note from Pastor Philip A. Gardner of Lancaster, Ohio, reveals that the Boxing Day St. Stephen has in fact nothing at all to do with Sweden or with horses. The Stephen for whom the day is named is the one in the Bible (Acts 6-8) who was the first Christian to be martyred for his faith.

19) In Greek legend, malicious creatures called Kallikantzaroi sometimes play troublesome pranks at Christmas time. To get rid of them, you should: B) Burn either salt or an old shoe. Apparently the stench of the burning shoe (or salt) drives off the Kallikantzaroi. Other effective methods include hanging a pig's jawbone by the door and keeping a large fire so they can't sneak down the chimney.

20) When visiting Finland, Santa leaves his sleigh behind and rides on: C) A goat named Ukko. Finnish folklore has it that Ukko is made of straw, but is strong enough to carry Santa Claus anyway.

21) A boar's head is a traditional Christmas dish. According to a popular story, the unlucky boar whose head began the custom in the Middle Ages was killed by: A) Choking to death on a book of Greek philosophy. story tells us that a university student saved himself from a charging boar by ramming a book of Aristotle's writings down its throat. He then cut off the boar's head and brought it back to his college.

22) When distributing gifts in Holland, St. Nicholas is accompanied by: B) His servant, Black Peter. Black Peter is responsible for actually dropping the presents down their recipients' chimneys, but he also punishes bad children by putting them in a bag and carrying them away to Spain.

23) At Christmas, it is customary to exchange kisses beneath a sprig of which plant? D) Mistletoe. Mistletoe was associated with peace and friendship in ancient Scandinavia, which may account for the practice of kissing beneath it.

24) Believe it or not, one Indiana town is called: D) Santa Claus. There is also a Santa Claus, Idaho.

25) Who was the author of A Christmas Carol? B) Charles Dickens. After A Christmas Carol Dickens wrote several other Christmas stories, one each year, but none was as successful as the original.

26) Which popular Christmas song was actually written for Thanksgiving? C) "Jingle Bells." The song was composed in 1857 by James Pierpont, and was originally called One Horse Open Sleigh.

27) A favorite Christmas story is Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in... C) Wales. This charming and poetic story is based partly on Thomas' memories of his own childhood. Originally a radio script, A Child's Christmas in Wales is now sold as a book and has been made into a television special.

28) In 1647, the English parliament passed a law that: A) Made Christmas illegal. Christmas festivities were banned by Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell, who considered feasting and revelry on what was supposed to be a holy day to be immoral. The ban was lifted only when the Puritans lost power in 1660.

29) The world's largest Christmas cracker was made (and pulled) in which country? B) Australia. The cracker, 150 feet long and 10 feet in diameter, was made by Ray Price in 1991.
30) The poem commonly known as The Night Before Christmas was originally entitled: B) A Visit From Saint Nicholas. This poem was written by Clement Moore for his children and some guests, one of whom anonymously sent the poem to a New York newspaper for publication.

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