December 17, 2009

The Clever Pup's Christmas Quiz

Here's a quiz you can amaze and delight your friends and family with. It's a tradition we started a few years back on Christmas Eve. I cobbled this one together with questions from other online quizzes, so thanks to whomever they may be. Feel free to use it, but link back to me. It's probably best if you copy it into a Word document first. Have fun.

The Clever Pup's Christmas Quiz

Question 1

When was the first Christmas celebrated on December 25th?

a) Around 4 AD
b) 4th Century
c) 15th Century
d) 17th Century

Answer: b

Question 2

In what country did the Christmas tree tradition originate?

a) Israel
b) Germany
c) New England
d) France

Answer: b

Question 3

Where was the original Santa Claus born?

a) Turkey
b) Germany
c) Italy
d) North Pole

Answer: a

Question 4

What country did poinsettias originally come from?

a) Mexico
b) Cuba
c) United States
d) Brazil

Answer a.
Joel Roberts Poinsett was the first United States Ambassador to Mexico being appointed by President Andrew Jackson in the 1820's. Because of his interest in botany he wandered the countryside looking for new plant species. In 1828 he found a beautiful shrub with large red flowers growing next to a road. He took cuttings from the plant and brought them back to his greenhouse in South Carolina. Even though Poinsett had an outstanding career as diplomat he will always be remembered for introducing the poinsettia into the United States.

Question 5

What state was it, at one time, illegal to celebrate Christmas?

a) Indiana
b) Massachusetts
c) Ohio
d) Delaware

Answer b.
It was actually illegal to celebrate Christmas in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681 (the fine was five shillings). Only in the middle of the nineteenth century did Christmas gain legal recognition as an official public holiday in New England.

Question 6

In Sweden, a common Christmas decoration is the Julbukk, a small figurine of a goat. Of what material is it usually made?

a) Candy
b) Straw
c) Uranium
d) Fir wood

Answer b.
Scandinavian Christmas festivities feature a variety of straw decorations in the form of stars, angels, hearts and other shapes, as well as the Julbukk.

Question 7

What is the Irish custom of "feeding the wren" or "hunting the wren" on December 26?

a) Taking one's in-laws out to dinner
b) Carrying a wren door to door, to collect money for charity
c) Leaving a basket of cakes at the door for passers-by
d) Putting out suet and seeds for the wild birds

Answer b.
One explanation for this St. Stephen's day custom refers to a legend in which the saint was given away by a chattering wren while hiding from his enemies. Children cage the wren to help it do penance for this misdeed. Often the children carry a long pole with a holly bush at the top - which is supposed to hide a captured wren. An artificial wren may also be used.

Question 8

In Tchaikovsky's ballet "The Nutcracker", who is the nutcracker's main enemy?

a) A girl called Clara
b) Drosselmeyer the magician
c) Dr. Almond
d) The King of the Mice

Answer d.
The King of the Mice, usually represented with seven heads, leads his troops against the nutcracker's toy soldiers. He loses the battle when Clara, the heroine, stuns him with a shoe

Question 9

At lavish Christmas feasts in the Middle Ages, swans and peacocks were sometimes served "endored". What does that mean?

a) The feet and beaks were coated with gold
b) The guests knelt in adoration as the birds were brought in
c) The birds had been raised on grain soaked in brandy
d) The flesh was painted with saffron dissolved in melted butter

Answer d.
In addition to their painted flesh, endored birds were served wrapped in their own skin and feathers, which had been removed and set aside prior to roasting.

Question 10

All through the Christmas season in old England, "lambswool" could be found in the houses of the well-to-do. What was it?

a) Imitation snow used in decorations
b) The material used for knitting Christmas gifts
c) A brew of hot ale with roast apples floating in it
d) A fluffy confection made from almonds and sugar

Answer c
Lambswool" was the drink that filled the wassail bowl. Sugar, eggs and spices were added to the ale, and toast floated on top with the apples. Poor people would bring their mugs to the door hoping for a share of the steaming drink

Question 11

The ancient game of Snapdragon has been part of English Christmases for over 300 years. Players are egged on by a chant, part of which goes, "Take care you don't take too much, Be not greedy in your clutch, Snip, snap, dragon!" What is "the dragon" in this game?

a) A costumed child
b) Flames of burning brandy
c) The oldest male in the room
d) A "snapper" made from fireplace tongs

Answer b.
When the room is dark, a bowl of raisins soaked in brandy is lit. Who will be brave enough to claim the prize from the fierce dragon flames?

Question 12

In Victorian times, most Londoners would have been familiar with the "goose club". What was it?

a) A pantomime troupe specializing in slapstick
b) A stout stick used for slaughtering geese
c) A banjo-like instrument used in door-to-door caroling
d) A method of saving to buy a goose for Christmas

Answer d.
Goose clubs were popular with working-class Londoners, who paid a few pence a week towards the cost of a Christmas goose. The week before Christmas, London meat markets were crammed with geese and turkeys, many imported from Germany and France.

Question 13

After Scrooge has reformed his life at the end of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, he invites Bob Cratchit to join him for some "smoking bishop". What did he mean?

a) A fast variation of chess popular in Victorian London
b) A premium pipe tobacco
c) A hot spiced drink
d) A Christmas pudding, soaked in brandy and set alight

Answer c.
Mulled wines were popular festive drinks in 19th-century London. They were undoubtedly much safer to drink than the untreated water. To make Smoking Bishop, take 6 bitter oranges and stick them with 6 cloves each. Put them in a bowl, cover with (cheap) red wine, and set in a warm place for a day. Squeeze the oranges into the wine and strain. Add port. Heat, and serve with a cinnamon stick.

Question 14

In Victorian England, turkeys were popular for Christmas dinners. Some of the birds were raised in Norfolk, and taken to market in London. To get them to London, the turkeys:

a) Were herded by sheep dogs
b) Flew
c) Rode in huge wagons called "turkey-vans"
d) Were supplied with boots made of sacking or leather

Answer d.
The turkeys were walked to market. The boots protected their feet from the frozen mud of the road. Boots were not used for geese: instead, their feet were protected with a covering of tar.

Question 15

Many movies on Christmas themes have been made for television and the cinema over the years, including dozens of versions of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Which of the following films has NOT yet been made?

a) The Jetsons' Christmas Carol
b) Popeye's Christmas Carol
c) Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol
d) Mickey's Christmas Carol

Answer b.

Question 16

Which of these names does NOT belong to one of Santa's reindeer?
a) Comet
b) Prancer
C) Blitzen
D) Klaxon

Answer d.

Question 17

In the Ukraine, what does it mean if you find a spider web in the house on Christmas morning?

a) Good luck
b) Misfortune will strike in the coming year
c) The winter will be unusually cold
d) Your house needs cleaning!

Answer a.
There once lived a woman so poor, says a Ukrainian folk tale, that she could not afford Christmas decorations for her family. One Christmas morning, she awoke to find that spiders had trimmed her children's tree with their webs. When the morning sun shone on them, the webs turned to silver and gold. An artificial spider and web are often included in the decorations on Ukrainian Christmas trees.

Question 18

In many households, part of the fun of eating Christmas pudding is finding a trinket that predicts your fortune for the coming year. For instance, finding a coin means you will become wealthy. What will you be if you find a button?

a) Poor
b) Famous
c) A bachelor
d) Called away on a trip

Answer c.
A ring means you will get married; while a thimble predicts spinsterhood. The idea of hiding something in the pudding comes from the tradition in the Middle Ages of hiding a bean in a cake that was served on Twelfth Night. Whoever found the bean became "king" for the rest of the night.

Question 19

If you were given some frumenty at a Medieval Christmas party, what would you probably do with it?

a) Eat it
b) Burn it
c) Put it in your sweetheart's hair
d) Use it to polish your boots

Answer a.
Frumenty was a spiced porridge, enjoyed by both rich and poor. It was a forerunner of modern Christmas puddings. It is linked in legend to the Celtic god Dagda, who stirred a porridge made up of all the good things of the earth.

Question 20

Which of the following names does NOT belong one of the Three Kings?

a) Caspar
b) Balthazar
c) Teleost
d) Melchior

Answer c.
The names of the wise men, with their places of origin, their stations in life, and even their number, come from legend and story, not from strictly religious tradition. One historical source gives them the Persian names Hormizdah, Yazdegerd and Perozadh. A teleost, on the other hand, is actually a fish. The word refers to any member of the large group that includes eel, salmon and plaice.

Question 21

One of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes takes place during the Christmas season. Which of these does the tale hinge upon?

a) A burglar disguised as Father Christmas
b) A blue diamond found in a goose
c) A cat trapped in an organ pipe
d) A poisoned flask of Napoleon brandy

Answer b.
In "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" Holmes manages to recover the jewel but, in the spirit of the Christmas season
, allows the repentant thief to go free - on the condition that he leave England for ever.

Question 22

Which well-known author of fantasy fiction also created a book called The Father Christmas Letters?

a) Lewis Carroll
b) J.R.R. Tolkien
c) E. Nesbit
d) C.S. Lewis

Answer b.
The Father Christmas Letters consists of letters written to the Tolkien children by Father Christmas. It was published in 1976. The illustrated letters describe adventures and events at the North Pole.


Alistair said...

Thanks. Great fun.....

amourissima said...


That explains why Ikea has staw goats! It all makes sense to me now! :)

Giulia said...

Oh, man. I didn't do too well. Must go study.


lettuce said...

on Q.5 I remember reading that the puritans in England wanted to ban mince pies....
don't know if its true!

Poetikat said...

Excellent cobbling together of questions, CP. I think I did pretty well.
Have you got the Chieftains, "Bells of Dublin" music? There's a song called, "The Wren in the Furze" and then there's also Elvis Costello singing, "The St. Stephen's Day Murders" which is my favourite, of course.