A Christmas Quiz

I didn’t know a number of these interesting tidbits. How well will you do?

(Answers at End, no peeking)

1. What British monarch ordered ginger cakes made to resemble friends and family members the precursors of today’s gingerbread men?

2. In what country was the turkey first domesticated?

3. What traditional Christmas beverage takes its name from the Saxon word meaning “wish of health”?

4. How big was the turkey Scrooge bought for the Cratchits?

5. Dr. Joel Robert Poinsett brought the first “poinsettia” plant to the U.S. from Mexico in 1828. What was he?

6. Vaccinium macrocarpon is the botanical name for what Christmas-associated plant?

7. What did NASA workers sneak on board Apollo 8 as stocking-stuffers for their Christmas moon mission?

8. What is the most popular Christmastime dessert in Japan?

9. What are polkagris?

10. Mistletoe was used in pre-Christian times as…

11. Name the 3 Wise Men.

12. Who wrote the Bing Crosby hit “White Christmas”?

13. In “The Grinch that Stole Christmas”, was was the Grinch’s heart full of?

14. How many lights were used this year (2015) to illuminate the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center in NYC?

15. In what year was Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” first published?

16. What did O.J. Simpson give Nicol Brown Simpson for Christmas in 1993?

17. What happened at the St. Nicholas church in Arnsdorf, Austria, in 1817 which prompted church organist Father Joseph Mohr and music teacher Franz Gruber to compose “Stille Nacht” (Silent Night)?

18. Why did the Massachussets Public Health Dept. issue a warning against kissing under the mistletoe in 1969?

19. What Christmas object did Edward Johnson invent in 1882?

20. In 1986, the Irish Rovers released a Christmas novelty song originally recorded by an American duo named Elmo and Patsy. Name that tune.

21. What country blocked the entry of Marie Osmond and The Pointer Sisters on Bob Hope’s 1990 holiday tour to entertain U.S. troops?

22. The first artificial (polyvinyl) Christmas trees made their appearance in which 20th-century decade?

23. Gene Autry’s association with the song “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” is well known, but the singing cowboy wrote and recorded another Christmas hit in 1949 which went on to be recorded by more than 300 other artists (including Elvis) and to sell more than 80 million copies. What was/is this famous song?

24. When/where did silver foil “icicles” first appeared?

25. Which of the following is St. Nicholas NOT associated with? A. children; B. thieves; C. scholars; D. virgins; E. musicians


  1. Queen Elizabeth 1
  2. Mexico
  3. Wassail
  4. Twice the size of Tiny Tim
  5. The first U.S. ambassador to Mexico
  6. The American cranberry
  7. Three bottles of brandy
  8. French style strawberry shortcake
  9. Swedish candy cane
  10. Being associated with fertility, it was supposed to be a cure for sterility
  11. Kaspar, Melchior, Balthazar
  12. Irving Berlin
  13. Dirty stockings
  14. 45,000 LED lights.
  15. 1843
  16. 6K diamond earrings
  17. The organ was broken; a mouse chewed the bellows (Silent Night was originally composed as an a cappella piece).
  18. To prevent a spread of mononucleosis.
  19. Christmas tree lights
  20. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”
  21. Saudi Arabia
  22. 1960s
  23. “Here Comes Santa Claus”
  24. In Germany, in the late 1870s.
  25. E

And to all a good night!

Innsbruck - Altstadt - Clock Tower at Christmas

Stadtturm, Innsbruck, Austria at Christmas

Christmas Videos – Alternative and Traditional

FNAR (for no apparent reason) I present you with some of my favorite songs regarding Christmastide.

The first, by Tom Lehrer, was sung in 1959. The inimitable Mr. Lehrer is now in his 80s, and I’d love to hear a song about what he thinks of today’s commercial Black Friday madness.

The next is Bob Rivers’ eternally -amusing “The Twelve Pains of Christmas”. Linguistic aside: I love the Jersey pronunciation of “terlet paper.”

My wife and I have always loved Tim Minchen, and his song “White Wine in the Sun,” while addressing the humanist slant on the holidays, has some powerful thoughts buried in there. It’s particularly poignant for me in terms of the focus on the importance of family.

Returning to the traditional, if you haven’t seen Pentatonix’ version of “Mary Did You Know,” I present it here for your enjoyment:

Lastly, a lovely version of “Christmas is a Feeling,” long one of my favorite Yuletide songs and sadly seldom recorded, with a message which I wish more people would embrace:

Wishing all people everywhere a joyous season of reflection, rededication, and renewal.


The Old Wolf has spoken.

Poland House Antiques – A recommendation, with a caveat.


Driving back from visiting the Shaker Christmas Fair at Sabbathday Lake in Maine today, we decided to stop in at the Poland House at 338 Main Street in Poland.

My senses were overwhelmed. I have never been in a more crammed, crowded, and fascinating panoply of home decor both old and new. Every single nook and cranny in that old home was stuffed to overflowing with things to look at and covet – one example below, which doesn’t do the place justice:


I loved so many things, and wished I were richer than Crœsus so I could decorate my own home with some of these treasures.


An adorable mini-nutcracker stand.

But beware: my enjoyment of the atmosphere was soured like vinegar added to milk – read below the review I posted at Yelp:

I was totally gobsmacked by the incredible selection of stuff (we came at Christmas time, the atmosphere was mind-blowing.) Much of it was new, but there were a lot of really, really cool antiques. As I was leaving I asked the proprietor if this was how it looked after the Christmas season, and he said, no, he takes it all down by himself and replaces it with the antique stuff.

Then he saw my phone out and asked, “You weren’t taking pictures, were you?” I said, “Yes, isn’t that all right?” He replied, “No. People who come in and take pictures without asking are beyond me.”

Fine, dingaling. You may think that owning a half-million-dollar house stuffed to the gills with millions of dollars worth of inventory makes you better than everyone else, but here’s a couple of tips:

  1. If you don’t want people taking pictures, post a sign on your door to that effect.
  2. If someone happens to be taking pictures, you could ask them politely not to – something like “I appreciate your coming in, but I’d prefer you not take pictures.”
  3. Don’t make people feel like an idiot. I was taking photos to show everyone what an amazing place you run. Instead, you get one measly star for being a turdcasket.

So if you like lots of amazing knickknacks and decorative stuff, by all means shop here. The prices are not too outrageous, some of them seemed quite reasonable. But be warned – the proprietor doesn’t give a rat’s south-40 for his clientele.

It’s clearly not just me: have a gander at this review left by another Yelper, Marie H, on September 7th:

Well I didn’t get very far although the shop looks interesting. I chose to take a bike ride and stopped there to look around. The guy was outside and never said hello, just” you’re not going to carry much with that!” Eying my bike. Against my better judgment I walked in the entryway and started looking. He said ” can’t be too healthy doing that on a day like this. ( he could use some pedaling). The atmosphere really felt hostile to me so I left. He said ” that it?”
Will never go in there again

Every moment is a choice, and every choice has prices and benefits. Treat people well, and they’ll come flocking to your door. Treat them like dirt, and they’ll never come back.

The Old Wolf has spoken.