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A test of your Christmas knowledge
Dec 23, 2011

 

As the annual festivities get into full swing, here’s another little Christmas trivia quiz to test your knowledge of this very special season (answers follow):
1. The first commercial Christmas card got a hostile reception from some people because:
a. It depicted a family, children as well as adults, drinking wine.
b. A mass-produced card was felt to be contrary to the Christmas spirit.
c. The ivy leaves surrounding the design were originally a pagan symbol.
d. They feared that overuse of the cards would lead to a paper shortage.
2. The Irish custom of "feeding the wren" on December 26 consists of:
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.
3. True or false? There are actually towns in North America called Christmas and Turkey.
4. St. Nicholas is a very hard-working saint, being the patron saint of children, merchants, apothecaries, pawnbrokers, scholars, and:
a. Teachers
b. Librarians
c. Mariners
d. Music
5. A modern Christmas custom borrowed from ancient Rome’s New Year's celebrations is:
a. Putting up mistletoe to make a “kissing bough.”      
b. Decorating a tree.
c. Displaying a wreath on the front door of one’s house.
d. Hanging stockings by the fireplace.
Answers
1a. The first commercial Christmas card got a hostile reception from some people because it depicted a family, children as well as adults, drinking wine.
The card was the brainchild of Sir Henry Cole, a leading cultural light  in Victorian England, who was later to become director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, among many other accomplishments. 
The card was painted by John Calcott Horsley. It depicts a family feast, under which appear the words, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”  Side panels illustrate Christmas charity: feeding and clothing the poor.
2b.  The Irish custom of “feeding the wren” on 
December 26 consists of carrying a wren door-to-door to collect money for charity.
The custom is based on a legend of St. Stephen. He was once forced to hide in a bush, but a chattering wren gave him away. 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, theoretically, is supposed to hide the captured wren.
3. True! There’s Christmas, Florida and Christmas, Michigan, and, towns called Turkey are found in Kentucky, North Carolina and Texas.
Other seasonal locations include:  Snowflake, Manitoba and Arizona; Advent, West Virginia; Antlers, Oklahoma; Arctic Village, Alaska; Rudolph, Ohio and Wisconsin; Noel, Missouri; Christmas Valley, Oregon; Evergreen, Louisiana; Brilliant, Alabama; Frost, Minnesota; Mistletoe, Kentucky; Nazareth, Texas; Holly, Colorado and Michigan; Santa Claus, Indiana; Star City, Arizona; and Santa, Idaho.
And, as if that’s not enough, there are nine Bethlehems south of the border, along with three North Poles.
4c.  St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children, merchants, apothecaries, pawnbrokers, scholars and mariners.
St. Nicholas is reputed to be able to calm storms and rescue sailors. Even pirates have claimed his protection. There are almost 400 churches of St. Nicholas in England, more even than churches of St. George, England’s patron. 
Extra trivia at no extra charge: In case you’re wondering about the other choices in the question — St. John de la Salle protects teachers, St. Lawrence librarians, and St. Cecilia is the patron saint of music.
5c. A modern Christmas custom borrowed from ancient Rome’s New Year’s celebrations is displaying a wreath on the front door of one’s house. It became the custom to bend evergreen branches into a ring and display them on doorways.