History Guild Christmas History Quiz
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Christmas History Quiz

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The stories behind the questions

1. Good King Wenceslas was a monarch from which region?

Czech Republic – 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.

2. Which country does the Christmas legend of the ‘Yule Lads’ come from?

Iceland – The Yule Lads are a group of 13 mischievous pranksters who steal from or harass the population and all have descriptive names that convey their favourite way of harassing. They come to town one by one during the last 13 nights before Yule. They leave small gifts in shoes that children have placed on window sills, but if the child has been disobedient they instead leave a rotten potato in the shoe.

3. In which year was the Christmas Truce?

1914 – The Christmas truce was a series of widespread unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front of the First World War around Christmas 1914. In the week leading up to 25 December, French, German and British soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasonal greetings and talk. In some areas, men from both sides ventured into no man’s land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs. There were joint burial ceremonies and prisoner swaps, while several meetings ended in carol-singing. Men played games of football with one another, creating one of the most memorable images of the truce. Hostilities continued in some sectors, with more than 40 British soldiers killed in action on Christmas Day in 1914.

4. Which monarch’s coronation was held on Christmas Day 800 CE?

Charlemagne – On Christmas Day 800 CE, the Pope crowned Charlemange Imperator Romanorum (“Emperor of the Romans”) in Saint Peter’s Basilica. In so doing, the Pope rejected the legitimacy of Empress Irene of Constantinople, leading to a schism between the Eastern and Western branches of the Empire. It led to war in 802, and for centuries to come, the Emperors of both West and East would make competing claims of sovereignty over the whole.

5. In the 1970’s which American company successfully marketed their products to the Japanese as the “traditional” food for Christmas?

Kentucky Fried Chicken – Every Christmas season, an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families treat themselves to Kentucky Fried Chicken, in what has become a nationwide tradition. KFC Japan’s busiest day is usually December 24, on which they usually sell about five to 10 times more than typical days.

6. House to house fighting was taking place in which British colony on Christmas Day 1941?

Hong Kong – Read more about the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong.

7. The custom of decorating a Christmas tree originated in which country?

Germany – The German custom of the decorated Christmas tree was first recorded in the Rhineland in the 16th century.

8. In which year did the British monarch first broadcast a Christmas address?

1932 – The first Christmas Broadcast was delivered by George V in 1932 and since then has evolved into an important part of the Christmas Day celebrations for many in Britain and around the world.

9. Kwanzaa originated in which region?

North America – American Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 during the aftermath of the Watts riots as a specifically African-American holiday. Karenga said his goal was to “give blacks an alternative to the existing holiday of Christmas and give blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.”

10. In which year was a feast celebrating the birth of Christ first held on the 25th of December?

330 CE – December 25th was first celebrated as a feast day for the birth of Christ in Rome. By the 380’s this practice had spread to Christians in Asia Minor as well.

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