History Guild Christmas History Quiz 2022
See how your history knowledge stacks up!
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The stories behind the questions
1. Where was the historical Saint Nicholas born?
Turkey – Born in 270 CE in Patara, now part of southern Turkey and then part of the Roman Empire. His secret gift giving led to his current association with Santa Claus. He is also the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, unmarried people, and students. Busy!
2. In 1647 which English ruler introduced a law that abolished Christmas Day as a feast day and holiday?
Oliver Cromwell – Shops and markets were told to stay open on 25 December, and in the City of London soldiers were ordered to patrol the streets, seizing any food they discovered being prepared for Christmas celebrations. This was because the Puritans believed that Christmas should be a sober reflection on God, not a drunken feast, as it traditionally had been.
3. In 1526 Turkeys were first introduced to Britain from which region?
North America – Brought to Britain by Yorkshire trader William Strickland, who had purchased them from Native Americans.
4. First recorded in history during the Christmas of 1599, where did Panettone originate?
Milan – The first evidence for its existence comes from a register of expenses of the Borromeo college of Pavia, where it was prepared as a Christmas treat for the students.
5. When were the first commercially printed Christmas cards produced?
1843 – Created by Sir Henry Cole in London, it showed scenes of charity, with food and clothing being given to the poor. Over 2000 cards were printed and sold for a shilling each. Cole had helped introduce the Penny Post three years earlier, this was a perfect companion product.
6. Who wrote Auld Lang Syne in 1788?
Robert Burns – The text is a Scots-language poem written by Burns in 1788, which was then put to music in 1799.
7. Which world leader resigned on the 25th December 1991?
Mikhail Gorbachev – Read more about the fall of the Soviet Union.
8. The festival of Saturnalia was celebrated in December by which ancient civilisation?
Romans – Saturnalia was a lead-up to the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, recorded as December 25 in the Julian calendar. The Romans exchanged gifts, enjoyed revelry, feasting and a break from formal business.
9. Who was the first British Monarch to broadcast a Christmas message?
King George V – In 1932 he delivered a Royal Christmas speech on the BBC. This became an annual event in the following years.
10. The Christmas tradition of Sinterklaas originates in which country?
The Netherlands – Sinterklaaas brings children presents on December 5 (the day before the feast of St Nicholas, December 6). Dutch traditions say that Sinterklaas lives in Madrid, wears a red clerical robe and a bishop’s mitre, and has servants called “Zwarte Pieten” (Black Peters).