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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Ghosts of Christmas quizzes past: The 12 Trivias of Christmas from 2015

In honor of the holidays, Spin Control usually tries to brighten our readers’ spirits with the 12 Trivias of Christmas Quiz, an annual feature that tries to keep politics from intruding on the holiday season. In the spirit of peace on Earth to men and women of good will, our holiday wish is that if the lions can lie down with the lambs and Paul Ryan and Barack Obama can strike a deal on the omnibus budget, progressives and tea partiers can share a bit of holiday cheer, and maybe a cab ride home when they have too much eggnog.

It’s also a chance to mix a bit of cheer with political trivia. Anyone who thinks Christmas and politics don’t mix, isn’t getting all the e-mails we get from elected officials. They all wish you the very best these holidays, by the way.

And why not? Next year’s a really big election year. But enough of such cynicism. Some of this year’s questions have a government or political theme, others are just, well, trivial. Answers and scoring below. No peeking.

1. The standard Nativity scene – banned from many public spaces but prominent in church lawns and front yards – featuring shepherds, Magi, angels and the baby in the manger, is based on what two books of the Bible?

A. Matthew and Mark

B. Mark and Luke

C. Luke and John

D. Matthew and Luke

2. Shortly before Christmas 1944, the American commander in the Battle of the Bulge sent a pithy response to the German commander when asked to surrender. What was Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe’s answer?

A. Ho, Ho, Ho.

B. Hell no, we won’t go.

C. Nuts.

D. Nein.

3. Warring soldiers called an unofficial Christmas truce during what conflict?

A. World War I

B. World War II

C. Korean War

D. Vietnam War

4. A congressional committee investigated what Christmas movie?

A. “Holiday Inn” for infringement on trademarks

B. “It’s a Wonderful Life” for communist influence

C. “White Christmas” for propaganda about climate change

D. “Die Hard” for excessive violence

5. This year’s official White House Christmas Ornament commemorates the lighting of the first public lighting of the official White House Christmas tree in 1923. Who’s the president on the ornament?

A. Woodrow Wilson

B. Warren Harding

C. Calvin Coolidge

D. Herbert Hoover

6. In the spirit of forgiveness, what president issued pardons on Christmas Eve?

A. In 1795, George Washington pardoned colonists who fought with the British in the Revolution.

B. In 1946, Harry Truman pardoned mafia leaders who assisted the U.S. during World War II.

C. In 1977, Jimmy Carter pardoned draft evaders who went to Canada

D. In 1992, George H.W. Bush pardoned six people involved in Iran Contra.

7. In Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, what office does Scrooge say his nephew should run for?

A. Mayor

B. Parliament

C. Alderman

D. Prime Minister.

8. Based on what do wildlife experts say all of Santa’s reindeer must be female?

A. Their antlers

B. Their names

C. Only female reindeer pull sleighs in Lapland

D. Male reindeer are too likely to fight each other

9. If your true love bought and sent each day’s gifts from The 12 Days of Christmas, by the 12th day, how many gifts would you have received?

A. 144

B. 226

C. 296

D. 364

10. Before it was a song, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was a promotion for what store?

A. Montgomery Ward

B. Sears

C. JC Penney

D. Gimbel’s

11. Who sent a letter to the commissioner of Major League Baseball on Christmas Eve challenging the reserve clause and his trade to a new team?

A. Roger Maris

B. Curt Flood

C. Don Drysdale

D. Steve Carlton

12. What store hires Kris Kringle to be Santa in the original version of “Miracle on 34th Street”?

A. Cole’s

B. Montgomery Ward

C. Sears

D. Macy’s


1. D. Nativity stories are only in Matthew and Luke, and they’re very different. Most Nativity sets blend the two.

2. C. McAuliffe’s one-word answer had to be explained to the German commander. On Dec. 26, Gen. George Patton’s tanks opened up a corridor to the besieged U.S. trooops.

3. A. The Christmas truce was along part of the Western front in 1914, but the war would last until 1918.

4. B. The House UnAmerican Affairs Committee briefly investigated if communist propaganda against bankers and the wealthy was being pushed by making Mr. Potter such a mean old miser.

5. C. Calvin Coolidge was president that year, and and flipped the switch on the first official tree lighting.

6. D.Clearly recognizing the advantage of doing something controversial right before a holiday, Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger and five others on his last Christas Eve in office.

7. B. After listening to Fred extol the virtues of Christmas, Scrooge says “I wonder you don’t go into Parliament.” The mayor of London and aldermen are mentioned, but not the prime minister.

8. A. Almost all depictions of Santa’s reindeer have antlers for the big ride on Christmas Eve. Wildlife experts say that while both male and female reindeer have antlers, but the males usually lose theirs in late November or early December, while females keep theirs until the spring.

9. It’s a lot of presents, and the shipping alone would bankrupt most true loves.

10.Robert May created the story in 1939 for a coloring book Wards gave away as a promo at Christmas. His brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, wrote the song based on the book in 1949, which was a hit for Gene Autry.

11. Didn’t think we could sneak a sports question in, did you?. Cardinal outfielder Curt Flood wrote Commissioner Bowie Kuhn that he wanted out of the announced trade to the Phillies. Kuhn said no, Flood sued and eventually lost, but the fight marked the beginning of free agency.

12. In the original movie, it’s Macy’s. In the 1994 remake, it’s Cole’s because Macy’s wouldn’t grant permission, saying the original movie should stand on its own.


0-3 You could be Scrooge before the ghosts visited

4-7 You could be Charlie Brown before being drafted to direct the Christmas play

8-10 You could be Rudolph as the fog sets in on Christmas Eve

11-12 You could be Linus explaining what Christmas is all about

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.