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Opinion >  Column

Spin Control: The annual 12 Trivias of Christmas

UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 24, 2020

Buddy the Elf had a delicious diet, including the answer to No. 6 in today’s Spin Control Christmas Trivia.  (ALAN MARKFIELD)
Buddy the Elf had a delicious diet, including the answer to No. 6 in today’s Spin Control Christmas Trivia. (ALAN MARKFIELD)

Each year, Spin Control takes a break from politics around Christmas, partly because if the wolf can lie down with the lamb, as the Prophet Isaiah said, liberal progressives can raise a glass with conservative populists and Valley Republicans can share fruitcake with Spokane Democrats. In masks and socially distanced, of course.

But mostly because people don’t want to read about politics for a few days. That’s how the tradition of offering 12 Christmas trivia questions started 15 years ago, when the holiday fell on a Sunday and there was no political news to snark at.

Here’s this year’s edition, with answers below (no peeking):

1. In the song “We Need a Little Christmas,” where are the carols to be sung?

A. At the window

B. On the door step

C. At the spinet

D. With the choir

2. The Romans had a year-end holiday celebration that the Catholic Church replaced with Christmas. Which god did the Roman celebration honor?

A. Jupiter

B. Venus

C. Mars

D. Saturn

3. The one piece of classical music in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” comes from which composer?

A. Tchaikovsky

B. Brahms

C. Bach

D. Beethoven

4. Who first suggested that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole?

A, Clement C. Moore, author of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

B. Charles Dickens, author of “A Christmas Carol.”

C. Thomas Nast, illustrator for “Harpers Weekly.”

D. O. Henry, author of “Gift of the Magi.”

5. What New York hotel does Macaulay Culkin stay in during “Home Alone 2”?

A. The Plaza

B. The Ritz

C. The Biltmore

D. The Davenport

6. According to Buddy in “Elf,” the elves’ four main food groups are candy, candy canes, candy corns and …?

A. Cotton candy

B. Candy apples

C. Chocolate

D. Syrup

7. Besides Yippy Ki-Yay, what line from an old Western does Bruce Willis as John McClane utter during “Die Hard”?

A. Happy trails

B. Belly up to the bar, boys

C. Draw, pardner

D. You caused a lotta trouble today, pilgrim

8 What leader stepped down on Christmas Day and changed his nation forever?

A. Czar Nicholas II of Russia in 1917

B. King Edward VIII of Great Britain in 1936

C. Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam in 1975

D. Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union in 1991

9. On Christmas Eve 1963, one month after his assassination, an airport was renamed for John F. Kennedy in what city?

A. Miami

B. New York

C. Boston

D. Dallas

10. In Puritan Boston in the 1650s, what was the penalty for celebrating Christmas?

A. 5 pence

B. 5 shillings

C. 5 pounds

D. 5 gold sovereigns

11. What president was the first to visit wounded soldiers in hospitals around Washington, D.C., on Christmas Day?

A. James Madison in 1814

B. Abraham Lincoln in 1862

C. William McKinley in 1899

D. Woodrow Wilson in 1918

12. The Hallmark Channel made history this year with a Christmas movie that revolves around

A. An LGBTQ couple adopting a child

B. A Muslim girl and a Jewish boy who fall in love in Bethlehem

C. A mafia hit man who has a contract on Santa

C. A couple who get divorced on Christmas Eve and never get back together


1. C. The spinet, which is a small piano, has the added advantage of providing the rhyme for the opening line of “We need a little Christmas right this very minute.”

2. D. The celebration was called Saturnalia, now a synonym for wild revelry.

3. D. “Fur Elise,” by Ludwig von Beethoven, who is, after all, Schroeder’s favorite composer.

4. C. Nast, who drew Santa for the magazine for about 20 years, eventually drew him in a workshop at the North Pole, which at the time was synonymous with an unknown mysterious place.

5. A. Kevin McCallister stays at The Plaza and eventually encounters its owner, Donald Trump.

6. D. Explaining you can never have too much sugar, Buddy pours syrup on his food.

7. A. Willis says that before Alan Rickman falls off the Nakatomi Tower.

8. D. Gorbachev stepped down Christmas Day, and the Supreme Soviet dissolved the union the next day.

9. B. JFK used to be Idlewild Airport.

10. B. 5 shillings may not sound like much, but back then it was about three days’ wages.

11. B. President Lincoln and his wife, Mary, visited the wounded troops that Christmas.

12. A. The others would all be good ideas for a Hallmark movie, but this year it made “The Christmas House” about a gay couple adopting their first child.


Here’s your Christmas persona, based on your score.

0-3: The Grinch on his way to Whoville

4-6: Scrooge after the Ghost of Christmas Past visited.

7-9: Linus explaining the meaning of Christmas.

10-12: George Bailey running down Main Street in Bedford Falls shouting, “Merry Christmas, you old building and loan!”

Deduct one point if you don’t recognize any of these references.

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