Metro-East Living

Your family will have fun unwrapping Answer Man’s Christmas trivia

Chicago Tribune Service

’Tis better to give than receive, the Answer Man says — especially when you’re talking about a stocking full of Christmas trivia questions designed to strain your brain.

Here are some of the Answer Man’s questions from Christmas Trivias past. Toys, movies, puns, food, Santa, bells — they’re all here for you to unwrap. They’re not your standard “How many ghosts appear in Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’?” but, hopefully, you’ll find learning something you didn’t know one of your best presents of the day.

Enjoy — and have a Merry Christmas. The answers appear below.

Toys of the decade

1. Soon after this toy was introduced at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the government bought 100,000 of them to train soldiers during World War II. Designed to replace the postcard, it has sold more than a billion. Name it.

2. When this toy first came out in 1952, its biggest part didn’t come in the box. Instead, kids had to raid the kitchen. What was it?

3. In the late 1970s, this toy made its inventor the communist bloc’s first self-made millionaire and Hungary’s richest private citizen.

4. Perhaps the sweetest game ever invented closed out the 1940s by storm.

5. What toy did talk show host Rosie O’Donnell turn into an overnight sensation in 1996?

Visit to Tinseltown

1. What secret ingredient made Aunt Bethany’s Jell-O salad just purr-fect in the Griswolds’ “Christmas Vacation”?

2. Stan Musial would have been proud that Charlie Frost used this musical instrument to bring his dad (Michael Keaton) back to life as a a snowman in “Jack Frost.”

3. When it came to having his mouth washed out with soap, which brand did Ralphie prefer in “A Christmas Story”?

4. What did Santa and E.L.F.S. use to escape from jail in “The Santa Clause”?

5. In “It’s a Wonderful Life,” what movie was playing at the Bedford Falls theater?

Born on Christmas

1. “There are no ugly women — only lazy ones” and “Men are just as vain as women — and sometimes even more so” are two quotes attributed to this Polish native born Dec. 25, 1897. She eventually turned her simple face cream into a cosmetics empire.

2. She was a prom date from hell who later became a coal miner’s daughter. Today, this actress turns 66. Who is she?

3. This musician, songwriter and businessman, born in 1946, spends a lot of his time “wasting away” and looking for salt.

4. When he was nominated to replace Robert McNamara as Lyndon Johnson’s secretary of defense, this lawyer, born Dec. 25, 1906, was asked whether he was a hawk or dove on Vietnam. He replied, “I am not conscious of falling under any of those ornithological divisions.”

5. If this famous actor had been at the first Christmas, he could have used his famous line: “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

A familiar ring

1. What do you call the study of bell casting and ringing?

2. Of what metal are most church and carillon bells primarily made?

3. Two world capitals literally start with the sound of bells. Can you name them?

4. Who are Acton, Currer and Ellis Bell better known as?

5. I once set a single-game rushing record of 347 yards for USC before leading Tampa Bay to its first-ever playoff win in 1979 during a six-year pro career. Who am I — and can you name my well-known musical brother, too?

Reason for the season

1. According to Luke 2, when Jesus was just a few days old, Mary and Joseph went to the temple where they met two people who already knew how special the newborn baby was. Who were they?

2. Before they found Jesus, with whom did the wise men first meet, according to Matthew?

3. Which direction did the wise men travel?

4. In the Old Testament book of Jeremiah, what crying woman foretold King Herod’s slaughter of the infants?

5, What did Joseph contemplate when he learns Mary is pregnant?

Worldly yuletide

1. What country continues to thank England for its support during World War II by sending a 70-foot Christmas tree to Trafalgar Square each December?

2. Instead of a useless bird wishbone, what tastier custom do Swedes have?

3. Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean is home to an annual migration so massive that it is called one of the natural wonders of the world. What creature crawls out of its burrow each November?

4. St. Nicholas Day is Dec. 6. What saint do many Scandinavian countries honor on Dec. 13?

5. What world capital claims to have the first documented evidence of using an evergreen tree in a Christmas celebration?

Just for pun

1. What Christmas carol do Internet business owners sing most?

2. They say animals talked on the night Jesus was born. What did the sheep say to the shepherds?

3. Athletes dread athlete’s foot. What does an astronaut fear?

4. True or false: Although he drives his sleigh only one day each year, Santa still would make a great race car driver.

5. What do you get when you cross a sheep with a cicada?

Holiday feast

1. Within 50 million either way, how many bubbles are in a standard bottle of champagne?

2. In “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” what does Mr. Grinch serve as the main course?

3. What is the proper liqueur to sip while watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”?

4. I’m imagining an Australian cookie that uses Rice Krispies, dried fruit and solidified coconut oil (copha). What am I dreaming of?

5. What do you call round or oval candies filled with dried fruit or jam, rolled in sugar and perhaps covered in chocolate?

Angels we have heard

1. What cute “Family Affair” cherub once starred as Michael, “The Littlest Angel,” in a Hallmark classic?

2. Name the 1998 chick flick that starred Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage as the angel Seth.

3. In Charles Tazewell’s book, what did The Littlest Angel’s gift of rocks and eggs to the Christ child eventually become?

4. Unlike Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, this angel was deemed unworthy of veneration by the Catholic church in 745. Yet, he continues to be prominent in works of art ranging from Haydn’s “Creation” to Dean Koontz’ “Hideaway.” In the Anglican church, he’s the patron saint of confirmation.

5. Before Disney remade it in 1994 with the California Angels, what cellar-dwelling team was the subject of the original “Angels in the Outfield” in 1954?

All the trimmings

1. In what year did Hallmark print its first Christmas card?

2. Who celebrated St. Nicholas Day one year by becoming the first president to address Congress on radio?

3. Former president Gerald Ford’s middle name has a Christmas connection. What is it?

4. At what store does Eartha Kitt want Santa to buy her Christmas tree decorations in the song “Santa Baby”?

5. True or false: In 1963, Macy’s canceled its holiday parade to mourn the death of John F. Kennedy.

Here comes Santa

1. It has been commonly believed that the remains of St. Nicholas were entombed at the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, Italy, in 1087. But in 2009, where did some historians say his bones really are?

2. In what piece of literature do we find the first mention of Santa, his sleigh and reindeer?

3. Who is often credited for hiring the first department store Santa — and the first to demonstrate how the old elf gets into your house?

4. On Christmas Eve, what government agency is charged with keeping the air lanes clear for Santa?

5. True or false: There is a Santa Claus Symphony.

Fine tooning

1. Many families have a tradition of reading “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” What does Mr. Arbuckle read to Jon and Doc Boy in “A Garfield Christmas”?

2. What does Lucy want for Christmas in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”?

3. What does Hermey the elf really want to be on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”?

4. Which Disney character is Scrooge in “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”?

5. Which husband of Shirley Jones provided the voice for Bob Cratchit in “Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol”?

Answers to Christmas trivia quiz

Toys of the Decade

1. The View-Master

2. Kids had to use a real potato for Mr. Potato Head until Hasbro started making plastic spud bodies in the 1960s.

3. Erno Rubik’s famous cube, which has more than 43 quintillion combinations (that’s 43 followed by 18 zeros) and one solution.

4. Candy Land, invented by Eleanor Abbott while she was recovering from polio.

5. One one of her shows, O’Donnell threw a Tickle-Me-Elmo doll into the audience every time a guest said “wall.” You still may have scars from the shopping melee that followed.

Visit to Tinseltown

1. Cat food.

2. Harmonica

3. Lux

4. Tinsel — it’s not just for decoration anymore.

5. “The Bells of St. Mary’s”

Born on Christmas

1. Helena Rubenstein.

2. Sissy Spacek.

3. Jimmy Buffett.

4. Clark Clifford.

5. Humphrey Bogart

A familiar ring

1. Campanology, from campana, the Late Latin word for bell. Campania was a region in southern Italy that centuries ago produced much of the metal that went into bells. A freestanding bell tower is often called a campanile.

2. Historically, they have been about 80 percent copper and 20 percent tin, although percentages may vary up to 10 percent either way depending on the bell size.

3. Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Belgrade, Serbia

4. Anne, Charlotte and Emily Bronte. In the 1800s, they thought their writing would sell better using male pen names.

5. Ricky Bell; Archie Bell & the Drells (“Tighten Up”).

Reason for the season

1. Simeon and Anna.

2. King Herod, who wanted them to spy for him.

3. East to west, the same direction a Christmas pudding is properly stirred to honor their travels.

4. Rachel, wife of Jacob and mother of Joseph.

5. Divorce, but he changes his mind when an angel appears in a dream.

Worldly Yuletide

1. Norway sends — what else? — a Norwegian spruce

2. The wishing cookie. Hold a cookie in your palm. Press it in the middle with a finger of the other hand. If the cookie breaks in three pieces and you eat it without saying a word, you get to make a wish.

3. Tens of millions of red crabs make their way across the island to the ocean to spawn.

4. St. Lucy or Santa Lucia. To honor the third-century martyr whom fire would not burn, the eldest daughter in a family dons a white dress and a wreath with lit candles (now often battery-powered) on her head.

5. In 1510, men with black hats erected a tree in Riga, Latvia, decorated it with paper flowers — and then burned it.

Just for pun

1. Oh, all ye faithful

2. “Season’s Bleatings!” (Or, in Mexico, “Fleece Navidad!”)

3. Missile-toe

4. True: The rest of the year, he’s always in the Pole position.

5. A baaa humbug.

Holiday feast

1. An average of 250 million, according to a three-year joint project in the 1980s by Heineken and Moet & Chandon that linked a camera with a computer.

2. Roast beast.

3. Bailey’s Irish Creme, of course.

4. A White Christmas. Try it yourself at

5. Sugarplums.

Angels we have heard

1. Johnny Whitaker, who turned 56 two weeks ago. Catch up with him at

2. “City of Angels”

3. Star of Bethlehem

4. Uriel

5. The Pittsburgh Pirates with Paul Douglas as foul-mouthed manager Guffy McGovern

All the trimmings

1. 1915, when brothers Joyce Clyde and Rollie Hall realized selling postcards wasn’t going to make them rich.

2. Calvin Coolidge in 1923. The broadcast was so clear that listeners on KSD in St. Louis complained about the noise he made turning pages, according to a New York Times story.

3. Rudolph.

4. Tiffany’s

5. False. The store did not want to disappoint the children.

Here comes Santa

1. At Jerpoint Abbey in County Kilkenney, Ireland, where a French family, while fleeing the Normans in Italy, brought his remains along for safekeeping in about 1170.

2. In the 1821 magazine “The Children’s Friend No. 3.” No authorship is given, but on page 2 is this verse: “Old Santaclaus with much delight/His reindeer drives this frosty night/O’er chimneytops and tracks of snow/To bring his yearly gifts to you.” It beat the more familiar “Twas the Night ... “ by two years. Page through this piece of history at

3. In 1841, Philadelphia merchant J.W. Parkinson reportedly hired a man to dress in a Santa suit and climb the chimney of his store.

4. NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command). In 1955, a Colorado Sears store misprinted a phone number, and kids wound up calling NORAD instead of Santa, starting a tradition by accident.

5. True. American composer William Henry Fry wrote the 26-minute piece in 1853.

Fine tooning

1. “Binky, the Clown Who Saved Christmas”

2. Real estate.

3. A dentist.

4. Who else? Scrooge McDuck, voiced by Mr. Ed’s Alan Young.

5. Jack Cassidy.