We’ve survived the 2008 election, the War on Christmas and the War on the War on Christmas, which can only mean one thing: It must be time for the Spin Control Christmas Quiz.
This annual feature stems from several things. Newspapers are always hurting for something to fill their pages around Christmas; the author soaked up way too much Christmas trivia in a former job that involved reading lots of newspaper filler over the holidays; and over the years, readers offered other bits of Christmas trivia, so the stuff piles up.
Some of this year’s questions have a government or political theme, others are just, well, trivial.
Grab a pencil and take this year’s quiz:
1. Poinsettias became a holiday staple in the United States thanks to what type of government official?
a.) A president.
b.) A U.S. senator.
c.) A governor.
d.) An ambassador.
2. In the song “The 12 Days of Christmas,” what day involves government officials?
a.) Day 6.
b.) Day 8.
c.) Day 10.
d.) Day 12.
3. According to the Bible, who was emperor when Jesus was born in Bethlehem?
4. Which of the following do not have a display in the Washington state Capitol this year?
5. The original Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, lived about 1,400 years ago and had a day job. He was:
a.) A duke in what’s now Holland.
b.) A count in what’s now Romania.
c.) A prince in what’s now Italy.
d.) A bishop in what’s now Turkey.
6. What’s the name of the angel who told the shepherds “peace on earth to men of good will.”
d.) None of the above.
7. Who set Christmas Day as Dec. 25?
a.) Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome.
b.) Pope Gregory, who established the basic calendar we use.
c.) St. Luke the Evangelist, who wrote the most complete Nativity account.
d.) William the Conqueror, who was crowned king of England on that day in 1066.
8. American newspapers used to make a big deal out of what foreign leader’s Christmas tree, describing it for readers in great detail every year?
a.) The king of England.
b.) The kaiser of Germany.
c.) The czar of Russia.
d.) The emperor of Spain.
9. In “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Mr. Potter is mostly a mean, rich banker, but he does hold a government position at one point. What was it?
a.) He was on the Planning Commission, so he could stop houses being built at Bailey Park.
b.) He was on the Public Safety Committee, which is why he could swear out an arrest warrant against George.
c.) He was a member of the state Financial Institutions Department, which is why the bank examiner kept showing up at the Building & Loan.
d.) He was the head of the Draft Board, which is how he knew George was 4F.
10. Abbreviating Christmas as “Xmas” drives some people crazy, but others say it’s no big deal. What does the X stand for?
a.) It’s an atheist’s way of saying Jesus didn’t exist.
b.) It’s an agnostic’s way of saying Jesus is an unknown factor.
c.) It’s a use of a letter from a foreign language.
d.) It’s an 19th century abbreviation for “I’m not writing this out because everyone knows what it means.”
11. What’s the name of Rudolph’s girlfriend (or more accurately, doe-friend) in the animated classic “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”?
12. The U.S. Postal Service issued its first Christmas stamp in 1961. When did it issue its first Hanukkah stamp?
a.) 1961. They were released at the same time.
b.) 1962, because sales were so good the previous year.
c.) 1971, when Richard Nixon was courting the Jewish vote for his re-election.
d.) 1996, in a joint effort with the Israeli government.
1) d. Joel Poinsett, who had been ambassador to Mexico.
2) c. It’s an English carol, where the lords a-leaping would be members of Parliament.
4) c. Pagans weren’t represented.
5) d. He was bishop of Myra in what is now Turkey.
6) d. Gabriel appears elsewhere, but that shepherd’s angel isn’t named.
7) a. It’s Pope Gregory’s calendar, but Constantine’s call for the date.
8) b. Remember, Christmas trees are a German tradition.
9) d. Although everyone knew George was deaf in one ear.
10) c. It stands for the first Greek letter used to spell Christ.
12) d. It’s a relatively recent idea.