When I was a young journalist with no seniority, which meant I worked every holiday, I filled in for the state editor who was the most senior person in the newsroom and had taken Christmas off since sometime in the Eisenhower administration.
It was an easy, if somewhat boring, job that involved scanning for news in weekly and small daily newspapers from around Nebraska, publications which often filled in blank spaces in their news columns with one- or two-paragraph “items” about Christmas. After a while, I got so steeped in the topic that I could win bets on Yuletide trivia at any bar in town, not just easy ones like what are the names of Santa’s reindeer but also the tricky ones like what are the names of the three wise men in the Bible (they aren’t named; Gaspar, Balthazar and Melchior were made up in the Middle Ages).
That was the origin of Spin Control’s annual 12 Trivias of Christmas, which we offer every year as a way to bring peace on earth and good will to Democrats and Republicans. No peaking or getting the answers from Wikileaks. Here’s this year’s edition:
1. In the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” what is the name of the housing development George Bailey was building for folks like the Martinis?
A. Bailey Estates
B. Bailey Park
C. Bedford Heights
2. In the Dickens’ story “Christmas Carol”, which of the following public officials is not mentioned?
B. Mayor of London
C. Member of Parliament
3. What space mission sent back the message “Roger, there is a Santa Claus” while orbiting the moon on Christmas Day 1968?
A. Apollo 8
B. Apollo 9
C. Apollo 10
D. Apollo 13
4. In the movie “A Christmas Story,” Ralphie’s mother didn’t want him to have a Red Ryder BB gun because
A. He might shoot his brother
B. He might break a window
C. He might put his eye out
D. It was too expensive
5. In the Netherlands, Santa Claus is Sinterklaas, with an assistant Zwarte Piet, who in recent years has become controversial because of complaints about
A. Capitalism, because he encourages too much spending
B. Racism, because he puts on blackface
C. Sexism because he and Sinterklaas are both male
D. Size-ism, because he’s usually played by a dwarf or little person
6. Back in the day, St. Nicholas was a real person. What was his job?
7. What other Christmas song is mentioned in “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”?
A. Santa Claus is Coming
B. Deck the Halls
C. Jingle Bell Rock
D. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
8. From which direction did the Magi come to visit the baby Jesus?
9. Nativity Scenes, or creches, are a holiday tradition that started in what country?
10. According to Pope Benedict, there shouldn’t be any what in a Nativity scene?
A. Donkeys: Bible doesn’t say Mary and Joseph rode to Bethlehem.
B. Sheep. Shepherds hurrying to the manger wouldn’t have brought their flocks.
C. Camels. The Magi probably didn’t show up until sometime after Jesus was born.
D. All of the above
11. Which of the following is not one of the 12 Days of Christmas in the Christian calendar?
A. Christmas Eve
B. St. Stephen’s Day
C. New Year’s Eve
D. New Year’s Day
12. The best-selling Christmas song of all time is
A. All I Want for Christmas is You
B. Silent Night
C. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
D. White Christmas
Answers are in the post below.