Answers to the '12 Questions of Christmas' Quiz

Tally your score to find your place in the Nativity.
Author:
Publish date:

1.

Bethlehem is "house of bread" (answer

c

). If this was intended to be a franchise, it didn't work.

2.

Nicholas managed to be both a saint and a bureaucrat (answer

b

). In fact, Nicholas was a bishop, which is a bureaucratic job in itself. Furthermore, bishops in the late

Roman Empire

were part of the civil service, handling the judicial and supervisory responsibilities of their dioceses. The emperor tended to trust the clergy more than his relatives.

3.

There would be

no

office Christmas parties under Oliver Cromwell (answer

b

). He outlawed the celebration of Christmas: It smacketh of Popery! Nonetheless, it is fun to imagine

John Milton

(Cromwell's PR flack) getting drunk and poetically propositioning Mrs. Cromwell.

4.

The answer is

d

: three sons. Don't worry; Herod still had four sons to spare. He also executed one wife and one son-in-law. None of his daughters were so honored. To his credit, Herod never executed any of his grandchildren.

5.

Magi were priests of the Zoroasterian religion, the dominant faith of the Parthian Empire (answer

a

). Persia was a province of Parthia. Phoenicia (alias Lebanon) and Phrygia (central Turkey) were Roman provinces, and their versions of wise men would have been Hellenized sophists.

6.

Prince Albert (answer

d

), the German-born husband of

Queen Victoria

, introduced the tannenbaum to England. He also may have introduced both intelligence and hemophilia into the Royal Family. The hemophilia made more of an impression.

7.

The Pompeii REIT (answer

b

) would have been a good investment until AD 79. Being

Augustus'

heir would be a terrible bet. All of his heirs had mysterious accidents or succumbed to surprise diseases. The Janus Theology Fund didn't turn a profit until the fourth century, when a small-cap religion known as Christianity got

Emperor Constantine's

celebrity endorsement. While philosophy was the first artificial intelligence, Microsophist would have been too ahead of its time.

8.

Unfortunately, the answer is

b

. Berlin's first memories were of the Cossacks' version of "The Easter Parade." Encouraged by the anti-Semitic policies of

Czar Alexander III

, the vicious mob could have been called "Alexander's Rage Time Band."

9.

Would you try growing cotton in December? Neither would

Sally Field's

character in

Places in the Heart

(answer

a

). In

The Lion in Winter

, the Plantagenets gather to celebrate Christmas and kill each other. In

The French Connection

, one of

Gene Hackman's

transparent guises was as a street-corner Santa. Between planning escapes and beating up

William Holden

, the prisoners of

Stalag 17

celebrated Christmas.

10.

Alexandria (answer

d

) was the think tank of the Roman world. Its scientists developed the Julian calendar and correctly calculated the Earth's circumference. One of them,

Hieron

, invented the first jet engine; however, he had no idea how to use it. Alexandria's scientific community also successfully promoted a chronological concept called the "week." The seven-day period once had been dismissed as just another Jewish idiosyncrasy. But when Alexandria adopted the idea, everyone loved it.

11.

The Oracle of Delphi (answer

c

) offered incomprehensible utterances and was worshipped for them. Mr.

Greenspan's

unique style of rhetoric would have hindered his career as a messiah. Imagine his version of the Golden Rule: "A proactive behavioralistic mode should be vectored to an optimalized spectrum with expectational reciprocity."

12.

The leaders of the rebellion hated to give up power (answer

d

). Unfortunately, the Maccabees were better soldiers than kings. The history of the dynasty is a sorry series of conspiracies and civil wars. Maccabee rule and Jewish independence ended in 63 B.C. when two princes were fighting over the throne. Each unable to eliminate the other, the brothers asked Rome to judge who should rule Judea. The Romans accepted the invitation, marched in, and didn't leave.

Scoring Key

Now add up your correct answers and find your place in the Nativity.

12 correct:

The center of attention

10-11:

Star of Bethlehem

8-9:

Host of angels

6-7:

Wise men

4-5:

Kindly shepherds (bewildered by Latin-singing angels)

2-3:

Kindly sheep

1:

Innkeeper

Eugene Finerman is a humorist, speechwriter and a damn know-it-all. Due to unprecedented demand, TheStreet.com gift shop has run out of Eugene's effigies for public burning. You'll have to settle for a Yule log. Or you can just

vent to his weary editor.