Link: 12 Days of Christmas
1 Hen; 2 Billie Piper; 3 Lord's Cricket Ground; 4 Swan Lake; 5 Alan Partridge
True The Greek word perdix is derived from perdesthai - "to break wind", probably in reference to the explosive whirr of the bird's wings as it takes off.
True The modern-day word can be traced through the Old English word peru and on to the Latin pirum, though no one knows where this Latin word originated.
True Some Mute swans weigh as much as two stone.
Link: snow... (snowshoe, snowcone, etc)
1 Choux; 2 Cone; 3 Michael Ball;
4 Vitruvian Man; 5 Flake
False But the Lithuanian word for "snowman" means literally "a man without brains" and protestors are said to have made 141 snowmen outside the Lithuanian parliament, one to represent each MP.
True When living in Vermont, Rudyard Kipling invented the game which involved red balls and tin cans for holes.
False The claim that no two snowflakes are identical was "disproved" in 1988 at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado (but if you look at the photos, "identical" is stretching it a bit). Einstein said his second greatest contribution was the idea that cooking a boiled egg in the same pan as his soup saved on washing up.
1 Coca-Cola; 2 Arctic Monkeys; 3 Pea; 4 Filbert Street; 5 Brazil
True Wal was used to denote something non-Germanic, as in Wales, Cornwall, Walloon. The walnut was introduced by the Romans in the 4th century.
False Such an ordeal does exist, but with the highly poisonous calabar bean rather than the peanut. A guilty person would be killed by the poison, while the innocent party supposedly just suffers from severe vomiting.
True This concoction was commonly used in medieval times; in fact it dates back at least as far as the Romans who would lace their eels with wine, no doubt harnessing the hair-of-the-dog effect.
Link: Christmas number ones
1 Football goal ("That's My Goal", Shayne Ward, 2005); 2 Earth ("Earth Song", Michael Jackson, 1995); 3 The Green Green Grass ("Green Green Grass of Home", Tom Jones, 1966); 4 Grandma Moses ("There's No One Quite Like Grandma", St Winifred's School Choir, 1980); 5 The Mull of Kintyre ("Mull of Kintyre", Wings, 1977)
False However, the "Mull of Kintyre test" is a guideline used to decide whether a man's penis can be shown on television, film, etc. The peninsula's shape is measured against the angle of tumescence to decide whether or not an image is acceptable.
False The Christmas number one is the second most popular novelty gambling market (the biggest is snow on Christmas day), but the largest novelty win was £194,400 by a man who in 1989 bet £30 that by 2000 Cliff Richard would have been knighted, pop act U2 would still be a group and that Eastenders, Neighbours and Home & Away would still be on television.
False Paul McCartney holds this dubious honour, having worked on seven Christmas number ones (four with The Beatles, once with Wings, once with Band Aid and once with Band Aid 20).
Link: top Christmas toys
1 Glasgow Rangers in the 1961 European Cup Winner's Cup final - they lost 4-1 to Fiorentina (Power Rangers); 2 Mastermind; 3 Cubism (Rubik's Cube); 4 Klaus Barbie (Barbie dolls); 5 Legoland
False The word "lego" comes from the Danish leg godt, which translates as "play well". By coincidence, the word also means "I gather" or "I read" in Latin.
True Erno Rubik was indeed the first self-made millionaire in a Communist country. He now runs a studio inventing toys and a foundation that helps up-and-coming inventors in Hungary.
True Scientists working with fruitfly genes give them jokey names depending on the result of mutations. A mutation of the Ken & Barbie genes leaves the fly without external genitalia.
Link: reindeer names
1 "Flashdance... What a Feeling"; 2 Dash; 3 De Havilland Comet; 4 Cupid; 5 Rudolf Hess
True After reindeer had eaten psychedelic mushrooms, Siberian shamans would drink their urine for its hallucinogenic properties.
False Reindeer antlers are the fastest growing mammalian tissue, managing an inch a day.
False Reindeer are herbivores subsisting mainly on lichen. They never eat fish, although Greenland sharks do eat reindeer if they are silly enough to go swimming in the sea.
Link: Nativity characters
1 Angel Falls; 2 Dennis Wise; 3 Cybill Shepherd; 4 Mary I; 5 Joseph Heller (Catch-22)
True The number of wise men is not mentioned in the Bible, but 1,700-year-old paintings on the walls of the catacombs in Rome show four people paying tribute to the baby Jesus; other similarly dated paintings show only two.
False There is no mention in the Bible of any animals at the Nativity. The closest we get to it is a mention of nearby sheep in a field in Luke 2:8.
True By the 13th century, Westminster Abbey had a number of supposed relics including the stones used to kill St Stephen, a tooth belonging to one of the wise men and the Virgin Mary's girdle. This was loaned out to royalty to aid in childbirth, famously dispatched to Gascony to assist Henry III's wife, Eleanor of Provence.
Link: 'A Christmas Carol'
1 Leeches (illustrated by John Leech); 2 Tim Berners-Lee (Tiny Tim); 3 Ghost Month (ghost of Christmas past etc); 4 Bob Marley (Jacob Marley); 5 Ebeneezer Goode (Ebenezer Scrooge)
True Saint Wenceslas was actually Duke of Bohemia for over 20 years from AD907. He spread Christianity during his rule before being murdered by his brother in AD929.
False Dickens did come up with a number of alternative names for the character which became Tiny Tim. These included Little Larry, Puny Pete and Small Sam, but sadly no Scrawny Steve.
True A Christmas Carol is one of the most famous examples of a potboiler (a work created only to make money quickly). Written to pay off a debt, it was the most successful book of the 1843 holiday season. Unfortunately, due to printing costs, it made very little money for its author.
Link: the poem 'A Visit From St Nicholas' (attributed to Clement Moore: "All through the house/Not a creature was stirring/Not even a mouse/'Twas the night before Christmas")
1 Henry Moore; 2 House; 3 Stir porridge; 4 Mouse; 5 "Twas brillig and the slithy toves"
True St Nicholas is thought to have been the Bishop of Myra, in Asia Minor - one of the most famous miracles he was said to have performed was to restore to life three children who had been cut up and pickled in brine.
False The original names of the final two, as written in the poem "A Visit from Saint Nicholas", published in 1823, were "Dunder and Blixem", the Dutch words for thunder and lightning.
False The modern image of Father Christmas was well known by the late-19th century - way before Coca-Cola used the image in 1930s marketing campaigns.
Link: Christmas dinner
1 Black pudding; 2 Brandy; 3 Brussels; 4 The Cranberries; 5 Turkey
False Turkey does contain tryptophan, an amino acid with sedative properties, but it only causes drowsiness when taken alone on an empty stomach. The amount eaten, even in a large Christmas meal, has no effect.
True Most turkeys in factory-farm environments don't live past three months, but for those that do, their plumpness makes it dangerous for them to have sex. So people are employed to act as a middle-man between the stags and the hens.
True Franklin thought the Golden Eagle was "a bird of bad moral character". Instead he advocated the qualities of the turkey: "though a little vain & silly [the turkey is] a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards."
Anti-Christmas quizlet answers
1b Yes, Scrooge was quite certain about what fate should befall revellers: "Every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart."
2a Slightly less severe than Scrooge, but when the puritans arrived in New England, celebrating Christmas was frowned on due to drinking, feasting and playing cards. As such, Christmas was banned in the Boston area for 22 years, with a fine of five shillings to anyone ignoring the ban.
3c According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, as a punishment for low-quality coinage, Henry "bade them all that they should come to Winchester at Christmas. When they came thither, then were they taken one by one, and deprived each of the right hand and the testicles beneath."
4a Reindeer noses are a wonderful breeding ground for bugs. According to one expert on reindeer nostrils, the wonderfully named Odd Halvorsen of the University of Oslo, it is most likely that one of these bugs is responsible for an infection of Rudolph's respiratory system which in turn has led to his famous red nose.
5c According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, each year 1,000 people go to hospital after accidents involving Christmas trees - and a further 1,000 are hurt by trimmings or in the process of putting up decorations, and 350 are injured by Christmas lights.
6a Despite the myth that the ill often "hold on" to life during celebrations such as Christmas and birthdays, statistics show that, perhaps understandably, more people die around Christmas time. The colder weather probably has an effect, but it has also been shown that more people die abruptly of a heart attack on Christmas day than on any other day of the year.