As you may imagine, December is a pretty busy time for ministers, so yes, the free ice cream will be scarce for the next three weeks or so. In the spirit of the season, here is a Christmas quiz. I’ll post answers tomorrow. There are no trick questions. Have fun, and don’t go googling the answers until after you’ve tried to answer them all!
1. T F The Old Testament prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
2. T F The Old Testament prophesied that the Messiah would be born in December.
3. T F The prophet Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would be born of a virgin mother.
4. T F The early church began the tradition of the Christmas tree.
5. T F Saint Nicholas figures prominently in our Christmas celebrations because he was the church leader who made Christmas a Catholic festival day.
6. Which of the following figures does not appear in the Gospels’ narratives of the birth of Jesus?
d. A drummer boy
7. T F Christmas gets its name because for centuries the Catholic church celebrated a Mass at midnight on Christmas Eve called the “Christ Mass.”
8. T F In colonial America, the Puritans were well known for celebrating Christmas as a major church holiday.
9. The Romans celebrated which of the following on Dec. 25?
a. The winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.
b. The birthday of the Roman deity Mithra, the god of the regenerating sun.
c. The feast of Saturnalia.
10. T F The early church set Dec. 25 as the celebration of the nativity of Jesus so that it would occur between the Roman feast of Saturnalia, Dec. 19, and the Roman feast of Kalends, which occurred on January 1.
11. T F Christmas Day is a legal holiday in Egypt.
12. Saint Nicholas was Bishop Nicholas of Myra, in what is modern Turkey, in the early 300s. He is considered the protector of what kinds of persons (include all that apply)?
13. T F Part of St. Nicholas is entombed in Flushing, NY.
14. When did the first retail-store Santa Claus appear?
d. Since 1950
15. T F The Christmas tree is actually of pagan origin, dating from pre-Christian Germany and Christianized by Christian missionaries.
16. When did the Christmas tree come into widespread usage in the United States?
a. Before the Revolutionary War
b. Between 1820-1840
c. The late 1800s.
17. In Old England, on what day of the year did masters and servants eat the same meal at the same table?
a. The monarch’s birthday, to signify that they were all alike subjects of the king or queen.
b. June 15, the date King John agreed to the terms of the Magna Carta in 1215, to signify that they all alike had their rights as Englishmen confirmed by the sovereign.
c. Thanksgiving Day, to signify together their common dependency on a gracious God.
d. Christmas Day, in the spirit of humility before Christ’s incarnation, the act of divine condescension before which all persons are equal.
18. Which US president began the custom of lighting the public White House Christmas tree?
a. Abraham Lincoln, who used candles
b. Grover Cleveland, in whose term the White House was wired for electricity
c. Calvin Coolidge, whose home state of Vermont sent him a tree.
d. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who began the custom as a beacon of hope during the Great Depression.
19. T F Christmas carols were begun by church leaders 800 years ago, notably St. Francis of Assisi, because popular music had become too bawdy and impious.
20. Christmas cards began ”“
a. In late Medieval times as a means by which the Pope sent Christmas blessings and instructions for the new year to the bishops in Europe.
b. In the Thirty Years War, 1618-1648, when generals offered to send soldiers’ Christmas letters home free of charge.
c. During England’s Industrial Revolution in the 1840s, when wages rose enough for ordinary people to afford the penny postage cost and the steam press enabled inexpensive printing of the cards.
21. Extra credit: What American economic occurrence is credited by historians with jump starting the commercialization of Christmas?