It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…well, maybe not yet, but it won’t hurt to try and feel a little festive. Do you enjoy Christmas time? Do you know a lot about Christmas? Try and answer our questions to test your Christmas knowledge! In the meantime, learn about this important winter holiday.
Christmas is an annual holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Christians celebrate it on December 25th all over the world. No, Jesus wasn’t born exactly on that day – the date was chosen to overlap with the pagan Roman celebrations honoring Saturnus, the god of harvest, and Mithras, the god of light.
Christmas comes from the phrase “Mass of Christ”. It was over time shortened to “Christ-Mass”. Sometimes the name Xmas is also used.
Not all Christians celebrate Christmas on the same day. In countries with large populations of Orthodox Christians, such as Russia or Ukraine, Christmas Day is January 7th. Some Greek Orthodox Christians also celebrate Christmas that day.
In Russia, traditional Christmas prayers are said, and people fast, sometimes for 39 days until January 6th, when the first evening star appears in the sky, which is their Christmas Eve. Then follows a twelve-course meal in honor of the twelve apostles, including fish, beet soup or Borsch, millet-stuffed cabbage, cooked dried fruit, and even more.
Christmas is the time when homes and public spaces are decorated with all sorts of decorations. Most of the decorations are symbols of Christmas. These include Santa Claus, the Christmas Tree, the snowman, the reindeer, and more. One of these symbols is the mistletoe. The popular custom of kissing under the mistletoe may have come from the people of Scandinavia, who associated this plant with the goddess of love, Frigga. They believed that those who exchange smooches under the mistletoe will experience good luck. To the ancient Romans, the mistletoe was the symbol of peace. It was said that enemies would put down their weapons and embrace each other if they met under the mistletoe.
We can’t talk about Christmas without mentioning a certain jolly, rose-cheeked man who brings presents to good children. Yes, we’re talking about Santa Claus! Do you know where he got his name? Santa Claus comes from the word Sinterklaas, which means Saint Nicholas in Dutch, the language of the Netherlands. Saint Nicholas was a Christian bishop who lived in the 4th century. Known for being kind and generous, he later became the patron saint of children.
Do you know Saint Nicholas’ story? When he was a kid, his parents died and he went to live with his uncle, who was the leader of a large group of monks at a nearby monastery. Nicholas learned about God from his uncle and wanted to be just like him.
Since Nicholas’ parents were wealthy, they left him a large sum of money. Since he loved Jesus so much, he decided to give his money to those in need, especially other children who also suffered misfortune. Whenever Nicholas gave money to people, he would sneak around so they wouldn’t know where the money came from.
One of the most famous stories about Nicholas brings to mind three girls who couldn’t get married because their father’s business had lost all its money. In those times, a girl could only get married if had parents had a big sum of money, called a dowry. These girls didn’t have a dowry. Nicholas heard about this family and decided to help them. At night, he tossed a bag of gold coins through the oldest daughter’s bedroom window. He did the same for the second daughter, and now the girls could get married. Nicholas tried to do the same for the third girl, but when he came to her window one night, it was shut. So, he climbed on the roof and threw the money down the chimney. Sounds familiar?
Santa Claus isn’t the only Christmas character. In Italy, there is a witch called La Befana. Befana is a kind, older woman who delivers gifts to children, in the same fashion as Santa Claus. In popular folklore, La Befana visits all the children in Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to fill their socks with candy and presents if they are good, or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad. Some say that as a good housekeeper, Befana will sweep the floor before she leaves. According to some people, the sweeping meant the sweeping away of the problems of the year. The family typically leaves a small glass of wine and a plate with a few nibbles of food, often regional or local, for the Befana.
In Iceland, children leave shoes under the window for thirteen mischievous trolls called the Yule Lads. Good children will find sweets in their shoes, but those who were bad will find a rotten potato!
Are you ready to test your knowledge about Christmas? Get down to the questions and get your score. Don’t worry – we promise the quiz will be easy!
How many questions are in the quiz?
There are 20 questions.
How many points can you get?
Up to 20 points.
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