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

How much do you really know about Christmastime and the myriad trivia that surround it? Those fascinating bits and pieces are found in film, music and art, literature, lore and tradition, and far beyond.

Trivia, yes, but hardly trivial. Rather, that vast body of details is ingrained in the historical and cultural shaping of our most celebrated holiday, after New Year.

On the lighter side, who doesn’t like a trivia quiz? For instance, maybe you know that in 1931 Coca-Cola commissioned artist Haddon Sundblom to create what is still the definitive image of Santa for its ad campaign. He used his own image.

Or perhaps you recall that our current president (wearing a red tie) had a cameo in “Home Alone 2.” He gave directions to the Plaza Hotel lobby to young Kevin McCallister: “Down the hall and to the left,” although the next shot shows Kevin turning right.

There’s lots to know about Christmastime, which is the point of this quiz — to fortify you with seasonal savvy so you can astound your family and friends around the punchbowl. By the way, eggnog was first called “milk punch,” as recorded in an early 18th-century cookbook.

This is the first of a three-part series of Christmas quizzes that appear in print on Sundays in The Bee.

Christmas Movies

One of our family’s Christmastime traditions is going to the local multiplex for some holiday cheer, action-adventure or sentimental tears. This year, think “Mary Poppins Returns,” “Bumblebee” and “Welcome To Marwen.”

A related signpost is the Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” and “Miracles of Christmas” extravaganzas. The network began rolling out a record 37 new holiday movies on Nov. 19, continuing through Dec. 29.

Meanwhile, how well do you know your Christmas movies?

1. In “A Christmas Story” (1983), it’s the 1940s and young Ralphie Parker hopes and schemes for a present he just knows his parents won’t give him for Christmas because it’s too dangerous. What is it?

a) A turbo-charged Bull’s Eye Auto-Reload slingshot

b) A Robin Hood Deluxe Archery Set, complete with ashwood bow and metal-tipped arrows

c) A Red Ryder 200 Shot Range Model air rifle (BB gun)

d) A Honda Go-Fast model motor scooter

2. According to the comprehensive business magazine Forbes, what was the highest-grossing Christmas movie of all time?

a) “Elf”

b) “The Polar Express”

c) “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”

d) “Home Alone”

3. Film, stage and TV adaptations of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” number in the hundreds. In what year was the first film adaptation made?

a) 1935

b) 1930

c) 1901

d) 1938

4. Three of these animated adaptations of “A Christmas Carol” are real, one is made up. Can you spot it?

a) Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol

b) Beavis and Butt-head Huh-Huh-Humbug

c) The Real Ghostbusters: Xmas Marks the Spot

d) Little Lulu’s Christmas Adventure

5. The perennial favorite “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947) starred Cary Grant as an angel, David Niven, as a clergyman and Loretta Young as his discontented wife. The film was nominated for five Oscars. Which one did it win?

a) Best sound

b) Best director

c) Best picture

d) Best editing

e) Best scoring

6. The 1947 Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th St.” poses the question: Is Macy’s department store Santa the genuine jolly old elf (he calls himself Kris Kringle), or simply a delusional man in need of institutionalization? At Kris’ trial, the judge rules he is indeed the real Santa, based on:

a) Sworn affidavits from other department store Santas

b) Thousands of letters from children addressed to Santa Claus and delivered to Kris in the courtroom

c) Sworn testimony from adults who witnessed Kris perform Christmas miracles

d) Thousands of letters written by Kris and delivered to children in New York City

Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town

1. What are the names of Santa’s eight reindeer as they appeared in Clement C. Moore’s poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” a.k.a. “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”? Yes, this is a trick question.

2. Where did Santa’s “ninth reindeer” come from?

3. After Santa comes down the chimney and deliver toys to good girls and boys, how does he get back up the chimney?

4. What is Mrs. Claus’ first name?

5. When did the first department store Santa make his appearance?


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. c) Ralphie’s dad surprises his son with the rifle, but, predictably, Ralpie’s first shot ricochets off the target and hits him in the cheek.

2. d) “Home Alone” at $285.76 million.

3. c) The silent movie “Scrooge, or Marley’s Ghost: A Christmas Carol” was 6 minutes and 20 seconds long. Only 4 minutes and 55 seconds of it exist today, kept at the British Film Institute.

4. d). Lulu Moppet was born in the pages of The Saturday Evening Post in 1935 and went on to star in her own TV show and become a “spokestoon” for Kleenex tissues.

5. a). Young did win the best actress Oscar that year, but for “The Farmer’s Daughter.”

6. b). Kringle’s lawyer argues that the U.S. Postal Service — “A branch of the federal government” — recognizes Kris as “the one and only Santa Claus” because postal workers deliver 21 bags of mail to Kris in the courtroom, all addressed to Santa Claus. For the fun of it, the National Judicial College recently posed the case to 400 judges, asking how they would rule. More than 80 percent agreed with the verdict.


1. The steeds are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder and Blixem — not Donner and Blitzen. “Dunder” and “Blixem” come from the Dutch words meaning “thunder” and “lightning.”

2. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer debuted in 1939 in an illustrated promotional booklet by Robert May, an assignment from his bosses at Montgomery Ward department store. Within a year, 2.4 million copies had been handed out.

3. Again referencing Moore’s poem: “And laying his finger aside of his nose and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.”

4. She has been given many names in literature and movies, including Jessica, Gertrude, Carol, Josephine, Victoria and Edna.

5. In 1890 in Brockton, Mass., when the owner of a dry-goods store decided to dress up in a tailored Santa costume and invite parents to bring their kids to “meet” Santa. It was one of the most successful marketing ploys ever.

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