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 Austria. A guitar was used because the church organ was so badly rusted it couldn't be played.
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:
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?
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:
Traditionally, the shoes used are wooden ones called sabots.
8) Which of these events did not occur on Christmas Day?
A) Ebenezer Scrooge was visited by four ghosts
The four spirits appeared to Scrooge on Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day.
NB: This answer has been challenged by two correspondents who note that at least three of the four spirits appeared to Scrooge after midnight, hence technically on Christmas Day. True, true - yet most of us think of Christmas Day as beginning when we rise from our beds, rather than when we are either already in them - as Scrooge was - or else about to retire. So, while acknowledging that our answer is open to a pedantic challenge, we believe it is correct according to ordinary usage, and clearly the best of the four choices offered by the question.
9) Which name does not belong to one of Santa's reindeer?
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:
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?
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?
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
The 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?
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 first 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...
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 Dr. Seuss' book How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the name of the Grinch's dog was:
The Grinch wickedly disguised his dog as a reindeer to help him imitate Santa Claus.
29) The world's largest Christmas cracker was made (and pulled) in which country?
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.
31) The poinsettia, a traditional Christmas flower, originally grew in which country?
In Mexico, the poinsettia is known as the “Flower of the Holy Night”. It was first brought to America by Joel Poinsett in 1829.
32) The first stamp ever issued specifically for the Christmas season depicted:
D) A rose
The stamp was sold in 1937 in Austria, where paper roses were a popular Christmas decoration.
33) Many families eat a turkey dinner on Christmas Day. The turkey is native to:
B) Central America
This bird, domesticated by the Mexican Aztecs long before Columbus, was named the turkey out of confusion with the African guinea fowl, a similar species that really is Turkish in origin.
34) According to the song, Frosty the snowman did not have which of the following features?
C) A bright red scarf
Pictures of Frosty often show the scarf, but the song doesn't mention it.
35) 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 Cromwell lost power in 1660.