Skip to main content

Christmas challenge

Ho, ho, ho!
It's that time of year when we're dashing around madly, but at the same time work sometimes slows down a bit. When better moment to take a break from thrashing around for a little light entertainment.

And so we proudly present the Now Appearing Christmas Mostly Musical Quiz. There is no prize (though do feel free to add a comment saying how you did) - just the satisfaction of knowing stuff. Or not.

No Wikipedia or Google cheating please - just try from the top of your head.

The answers are down below.

1. Why do Rangifer tarandus abound this time of year?

2. How would you distinguish Father Christmas from Santa Claus in an identity parade?

3. A certain rhyme in depth:
a) Which poem introduced Santa's reindeer (a bonus if you can give both titles)?
b) Who wrote it?
c) Five years either way, when was it written?
d) Which two reindeer have variant spellings of their name (a bonus for the variants and why)?
e) Who wrote the poem that introduced a ninth reindeer?
f) Three years either way, when was it written?
g) Who set the poem to music?
h) Three years either way, when was it written?

4. What is a macaronic carol?

5. What date is Holy Innocents Day?

6. A funky music collection of 1582 introduced Christmas hits like In Dulce Jubilo (it dates back to the 13th century, but this made it), Gaudete!, Unto us in Born a Son and the tune of Good King Wenceslas. What was it called? (Bonus for the country it originated)

7. Where was Wenceslas a king, what was his actual name and when did he reign (10 years either way)? - three marks up for grabs!

8. Who wrote Silent Night - a mark each for the two (surnames will do)?

9. Multiply drummers drumming by swans a swimming and take away ladies dancing. What do you get?

10. Time for a Christmas drink...









1. Rangifer tarandus are reindeer (or caribou).

2. Father Christmas wears a full length hooded cloak in either red or green. Santa Claus wears separate hat, jacket and trousers in red with white trim, and a broad black belt.

3. A certain rhyme in depth:
a) Twas The Night Before Christmas - A Visit from St Nicholas
b) Clement Clark Moore
c) 1823
d) Donner & Blitzen / Dunder or Donder & Blixem - the second set (used in the original) are the Dutch words for thunder and lightning
e) Robert L. May
f) 1939
g) Johnny Marks
h) 1949

4. A carol in more than one language, typically Latin and English/ language of your choice

5. 28 December

6. Piae Cantiones - Finland

7. Bohemia, Vaclav, 922-929

8. Mohr and Gruber

9. 75

10. Mine's a pint

Image from Wikipedia, by Douglas Rahden


Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Which idiot came up with percentage-based gradient signs

Rant warning: the contents of this post could sound like something produced by UKIP. I wish to make it clear that I do not in any way support or endorse that political party. In fact it gives me the creeps. Once upon a time, the signs for a steep hill on British roads displayed the gradient in a simple, easy-to-understand form. If the hill went up, say, one yard for every three yards forward it said '1 in 3'. Then some bureaucrat came along and decided that it would be a good idea to state the slope as a percentage. So now the sign for (say) a 1 in 10 slope says 10% (I think). That 'I think' is because the percentage-based slope is so unnatural. There are two ways we conventionally measure slopes. Either on X/Y coordiates (as in 1 in 4) or using degrees - say at a 15° angle. We don't measure them in percentages. It's easy to visualize a 1 in 3 slope, or a 30 degree angle. Much less obvious what a 33.333 recurring percent slope is. And what's a 100% slope