History Guild Christmas History Quiz 2023
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Christmas History Quiz 2023

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The stories behind the questions

1. Which Roman Festival was held on the 25th of December?

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti – The festival Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (‘birthday of the Invincible Sun’) was celebrated on 25th December, the date of the winter solstice in the Roman calendar. It followed on from the seven day Saturnalia festival, where Romans exchanged gifts, enjoyed revelry, feasting and a break from formal business.

2. In which year did England pass legislation restricting Christmas celebrations?

1647 – Parliament under Oliver Cromwell ordered that shops and markets were to stay open on 25th 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. Who was executed on Christmas Day, 1989?

Nicolae Ceaușescu – The trial of Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu was held on 25th December 1989, only three days after they were arrested as part of the Romanian Revolution. They were found guilty of genocide in a summary trial and executed by firing squad almost immediately.

4. Whose Coronation took place on Christmas Day, 1066?

William I, The Conqueror – Choosing this date was in imitation of the customary date for the coronations of the eastern Byzantine emperors and the western Holy Roman emperors.

5. Which of these battles occurred on Christmas Day?

All of the above – The Japanese invasion of Hong Kong was in 1941, The Siege of Bastogne 1944 and Washington’s crossing of the Delaware was in 1776.

6. How did Good King Wenceslas die?

In a drunken brawl – Good King Wenceslas was actually Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia. He was also known as Vaclac the Good, or Svatý Václav in Czech and lived from c. 907 to 935. His younger brother, Boleslaus the Cruel, probably killed him. However, there is a debate on whether his death was an accident or a murder. It was the result of a quarrel between the two brothers or their parties, probably after a night of drinking. Boleslaus’ men then killed Wenceslaus in the subsequent chaotic fight.

7. Who built a fort they named ‘La Navidad’ after running aground on Christmas Day, 1492?

Christopher Columbus – After running aground on the island of Hispaniola, Columbus used the timbers from the ship Santa Maria to build the fort ‘La Navidad’.

8. When were Turkeys were first introduced to Britain?

1526 – They were brought to Britain by Yorkshire trader William Strickland, who had purchased them from Native Americans.

9. Which language was the Christmas carol ‘Silent Night’ originally written in?

German – Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht was composed in 1818 by Joseph Mohr in the Austrian town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg.

10. In which year did Charles Dickens publish ‘A Christmas Carol’?

1843 – A Christmas Carol recounts the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. After their visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man.

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