Christmas quiz Pt. III: From Dickens to Carey, test your knowledge

“A Christmas Carol” has been a favorite book, movie and play since its release more than 150 years ago.
“A Christmas Carol” has been a favorite book, movie and play since its release more than 150 years ago. Modesto Bee

This is the last of a three-part series of Christmas quizzes that appear in print on Sundays in The Bee. You can find the first two parts online at sacbee.com.

About ‘A Christmas Carol’

1. British author Charles Dickens published a novella in 1843 about a miserly businessman who gets a reality check when three spirits show him his past, present and possible future. What was the title?

a) “A Christmas Carol: The Haunting of Ebenezer Scrooge”

b) “A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas”

c) “Three Haunts and a Gaffer: A Christmas Carol”

d) “A Christmas Carol: Scrooge and the Specters”

2. The Ghost of Christmas Present transports Scrooge to Bob Cratchit’s house to witness the family’s Christmas Day dinner. Which item was not part of the meal?

a) Turkey and stuffing

b) Mashed potatoes and gravy

c) Applesauce

d) Christmas pudding

3. “A Christmas Carol” was actually Dickens’ political statement spurred by his shock over:

a) The cruel treatment of farm animals

b) The government’s crude attitude toward England’s suffragette movement

c) The awful working conditions and abuse suffered by children in factories and mines

d) A disturbing move of the British faithful away from the Church of England

4. To hammer his political point home, Dickens created a scene in which the Ghost of Christmas Present pulls aside his robe to reveal two grotesque urchins, a boy and a girl. The spirit warns Scrooge, “Beware them both!” What are their names?

a) Lust and Envy

b) Ignorance and Want

c) Cruelty and Intolerance

d) Denial and Disease

5. Dickens paid a publisher to print “A Christmas Carol,” making it one of literature’s earliest self-published books. How large was the first printing, and how quickly did it sell out?

a) 6,000 copies sold out in five days

b) 15,000 copies in 10 days

c) 50,000 copies in two weeks

d) 1,000 copies in one day

6. When first published, “A Christmas Carol” sold for about $25 in today’s money. How much does a copy from the first printing of the first edition sell for now?

a) $18,000 to $45,000

b) $13,000 to $27,000

c) $5,000 to $10,500

d) $2,000 to $4,500

Just for fun

1. Why are candy canes curved?

2. You can find prefabricated kits and Food Network specials on how to make a gingerbread house, but who first thought it up?

3. The advent calendar is a fun countdown to Christmas. What was the biggest one ever made?

4. “The Elf On the Shelf” book and companion toy became a hit after it was conceived in 2005. What was the Jewish version that followed?

Who Said It?

1. “The one thing women don’t want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husbands.”

a) Theresa May

b) Amy Poehler

c) Joan Rivers

d) Margaret Cho

2. “Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas”

a) Robin Williams

b) Tina Fey

c) Megan Brennan (the postmaster general)

d) Johnny Carson

3. “That’s the true spirit of Christmas – people being helped by people other than me”

a) Mark Zuckerberg

b) Jerry Seinfeld

c) Julia Louis-Dreyfus

d) Samantha Bee

4. “My idea of Christmas is very simple: Loving others. Come to think of it , why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”

a) Bob Hope

b) Mother Teresa

c) Tom Hanks

d) Jimmy Carter

5. “Once again we come to the holiday season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes in his own way — by going to the mall of his choice.”

a) Kristen Wiig

b) Melissa McCarthy

c) a press release from the Mall of America

d) Dave Barry


Scoring is simple: If you answer half the questions correctly, give yourself a Christmas gift. If not, go out of your way to perform a random act of kindness this holiday season. Either way, you win.


1. b). The book, commonly known as “A Christmas Carol,” has never been out of print.

2. a). The main course was roast goose with sage-onion stuffing. Apples, oranges and roasted chestnuts were also on the menu, along with hot spiced gin with lemons.

3. c). Britain’s Industrial Revolution essentially enslaved orphans and the children of the impoverished in factories and mines throughout the United Kingdom, a horror Dickens knew well from his own childhood.

The country was outraged when the parliamentary report by the Children’s Employment Commission was released in 1842, featuring testimony from children about the horrid conditions in which they toiled. Though it eventually led to corrective legislation, Dickens vowed at the time to deliver a “sledge-hammer blow” on behalf of “the Poor Man’s Child,” which became “A Christmas Carol.”

4. b) Dickens scholars say the waifs symbolize the consequences of ignorance and want in the world, specifically violent crime and mental instability. Also, they are references to two other Dickens’ novels about social injustice and oppression — “Oliver Twist” and “Hard Times.”

5. a). More copies were quickly printed by the publisher, Chapman & Hall, followed by 11 (some historians say 13) editions over the next year, a remarkable feat for any title.

6. a). Antiquarian-book sellers agree the values of rare books vary dramatically, based mostly on condition but also on which printing (first, second, third, etc.) and which edition (first, second, third, etc.) the book is from, and whether it’s signed or inscribed by the author. The range of $18,000 to $45,000 may seem startling, but “presentation copies” — books Dickens inscribed and gave to his friends — have fetched from $50,000 to $280,000 at auction.


1. Originally they were straight candy sticks, but 250 years ago the German clergy made them into the “J” shape of shepherds’ crooks, to honor the Nativity story.

2. Fancy gingerbread houses were made in Germany, as early as the 16th century, linked to bakers’ guilds. However, it’s thought their popularity surged with the 1812 publication of “Grimm Fairy Tales,” a compilation of ancient folktales that included “Hansel and Gretel.” Remember, the siblings come across a gingerbread-and-candy house in the woods, occupied by a witch with bad intentions.

3. “Guinness World Records” credits the one built as a promotion for a London rail station. It was more than 232 feet tall and more than 75 feet wide.

4. “The Mensch On a Bench,” as see on TV’s “Shark Tank.”


1. c) Joan Rivers

2. d) Johnny Carson

3. b) Jerry Seinfeld

4. a) Bob Hope

5. d) Dave Barry