Quiz about St Nicholas The Original Santa Claus
Quiz about St Nicholas The Original Santa Claus

St. Nicholas (The Original Santa Claus) Quiz


A quiz about the fascinating evolution of the saintly 4th century bishop into the contemporary Christmas icon. For my nephew Patrick William (Nicholas) Moran. Good luck!.

A multiple-choice quiz by jouen58. Estimated time: 7 mins.
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Author
jouen58
Time
7 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
152,438
Updated
Feb 18 22
# Qns
15
Difficulty
Difficult
Avg Score
7 / 15
Plays
4565
Awards
Editor's Choice
Last 3 plays: fletch1165 (5/15), Guest 71 (6/15), Guest 172 (10/15).
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. Nicholas was the bishop of the diocese of Myra in what was once known as Asia Minor. Myra is currently known as Demre; what country is it in? Hint

Armenia
Turkey
Albania
India

2. Although he enjoyed a great reputation for his holiness and charity, little is actually known about Nicholas' life. We do know, however, that he was imprisoned for his faith at one point. Under which Roman emperor did this occur? Hint

Diocletian
Licinius
Caligula
Vespasian

3. Nicholas was known to have been present at the historic church council at Nicea. Which of these momentous events did NOT occur at the Council of Nicea? Hint

Denunciation of the Arian heresy
Definition of Christ as being "of one substance" with the father.
Formation of the Nicene creed
Setting of the date of Christ's birth as December 25

4. Nicholas died around the year 350 A.D. What was the date of his death, which is also his feast day? Hint

December 6
January 6
December 26
December 8

5. Many legends began to appear about Nicholas in the Middle Ages. According to one, he saved three dowerless girls, whose father was going to sell them into slavery, by bestowing upon them three purses of gold (or, according to some versions, three golden balls) while they slept at night. Which Christmas tradition was inspired by this legend? Hint

"Kissing balls" made of mistletoe
Christmas balls or globes as ornaments
The Christmas stocking
Snowball fights

6. Which of these is St. Nicholas NOT (officially) the patron of? Hint

Perfumers
Pregnant women
Children
Pawnbrokers

7. In the year 1087, St. Nicholas' relics were brought to this Italian city, were they were enshrined. Hint

Genoa
Sardinia
Puglia
Bari

8. St. Nicholas is the patron of Sicily, Greece, Apulia, Lorraine, and this country, where it used to be said "Even if God dies, we still have St. Nicholas." Hint

Poland
Germany
Russia
Austria

9. The name Santa Claus was probably derived from Sinterklaas (alternately Sint Niklaas, or Sint Nikolaas), which is what St. Nicholas is called in the language of this European country. Hint

Sweden
Holland / the Netherlands
Austria
Finland

10. As Europe became Christianized, certain deities who had been worshipped by the pagans were replaced by Christian saints, while still retaining many of their traditional characteristics. The transmogrification of St. Nicholas into Santa Claus represents probably the most striking example of this practice. Which of these pagan gods did NOT contribute some attributes to the St. Nicholas/Santa Claus legend? Hint

Thor
Odin
Baldur
Saturn

11. It was in the Church of St. Nicholas in Obendorf, Austria, that this beloved Christmas song was written on Christmas Eve in 1818. Hint

O Du Frohliche (O Thou Joyful Day)
Es ist Ein Ros' Entsprungen (Lo, How a Rose E're Blooming)
Stille Nacht (Silent Night)
Ihr Kinderlein Kommet (O Come, Little Children)

12. "Bishop's bread" and "bishop's wine" are traditional holiday treats associated with the feast of St. Nicholas.

True
False

13. A favorite tradition in parts of Europe for St. Nicholas' day was to give children the run of the house or school for the day and to elect a "boy bishop", or "Lord of Misrule", who would take charge of the proceedings. On which other Christmas-related church feast was this tradition sometimes practiced? Hint

Immaculate Conception (December 8)
Holy Innocent's Day (December 28)
Epiphany (January 6)
St. Stephen's or Boxing Day (December 26)

14. Santa Claus is also known as Kris Kringle. What is the origin of this name? Hint

St. Christopher, with whom St. Nicholas was frequently confused in Medieval legends.
The ancient Teutonic god of Winter.
An ancient Nordic nickname for the god Thor.
The Christ child who, according to German tradition, delivered presents on Christmas Eve.

15. Visits from St. Nicholas on the eve of his feast day were (and are) a favorite tradition in many parts of Europe. Which of these classic children's novels describes such a visit? Hint

"Anne of Avonlea" by Lucy Maud Montgomery
"Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott
"The Little Princess" by Frances Hodgson Burnett
"Hans Brinker; or, the Silver Skates" by Mary Mapes Dodge


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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Nicholas was the bishop of the diocese of Myra in what was once known as Asia Minor. Myra is currently known as Demre; what country is it in?

Answer: Turkey

Asia Minor (called Lesser Asia by the Romans) comprised much of the Asiatic part of what is now known as Turkey. Nicholas was born in Patara, a seafaring port in Lycia (which partly accounts for his patronage of sailors). He was appointed bishop of the somewhat derelict diocese of Myra (now Demre), which he transformed by his holiness and good works.
2. Although he enjoyed a great reputation for his holiness and charity, little is actually known about Nicholas' life. We do know, however, that he was imprisoned for his faith at one point. Under which Roman emperor did this occur?

Answer: Diocletian

The reign of Diocletian began in 284 A.D. and lasted until his abdication in 305. His reign marked the last great persecution of Christians, although it was also known for increasing tolerance of the Christian faith. Nicholas was imprisoned during his reign but was released in 311.
3. Nicholas was known to have been present at the historic church council at Nicea. Which of these momentous events did NOT occur at the Council of Nicea?

Answer: Setting of the date of Christ's birth as December 25

The first Council of Nicea was held in the year 325 A.D.; its purpose was to denounce the heresy of Arius, a Libyan theologian whose teachings denied the divinity of Christ. The Nicean council defined the doctrine that Christ was "of one substance with the Father" (Consubstantialem Patri); this doctrine was set forth in the Nicene Creed, which was formulated by the council and forms part of the Canon of the Mass.

It would not be until 349 A.D., one year before Nicholas' death, that the feast of Christmas would be set at the 25th of December (the ancient feast of the Winter Solstice) by Pope Julius I.
4. Nicholas died around the year 350 A.D. What was the date of his death, which is also his feast day?

Answer: December 6

December 6 is traditionally accepted as the date of Nicholas' death and thus is observed as his feast day. December 8 is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (commemorating the Church's belief that the Virgin Mary was conceived free of original sin). December 26 is the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr, and is observed in England and Canada as "Boxing Day", on which it was traditional to bring boxes of food and clothing to poorer neighbors. January 6 was the feast of the Epiphany (the Roman Catholic Church now observes this on the first Sunday after New Year's Day).
5. Many legends began to appear about Nicholas in the Middle Ages. According to one, he saved three dowerless girls, whose father was going to sell them into slavery, by bestowing upon them three purses of gold (or, according to some versions, three golden balls) while they slept at night. Which Christmas tradition was inspired by this legend?

Answer: The Christmas stocking

According to some versions of the story, the saint deposited the gold in the girls' shoes, which were lined up before the fire; later versions turned the shoes into stockings, which were hung before the fire to dry after being washed. In some parts of the world, such as the Netherlands, shoes are used instead of stockings.

It is traditional to put an orange in the toe of the Christmas stocking to recall St. Nicholas' original gift. In many countries, an apple and/or some root vegetables are included for the saint's beast (or beasts) of burden, which may be either reindeer (in America and certain Scandinavian countries), a donkey (in some Latin countries), or a horse (in Germany and the Netherlands, among others).
6. Which of these is St. Nicholas NOT (officially) the patron of?

Answer: Pregnant women

St. Gerard Majella (and, in earlier days, St. Margaret) is the patron of pregnant women and women in labor. St. Nicholas' time-honored patronage of children derives from stories in which he saves three young men from unjust execution or, in the most popular version, he restores them to life after they have been murdered, dismembered, and pickled in brine by an unscrupulous inn-keeper (a version of this story was written by the 19th century French author Anatole France).

In later versions, the three young men become three boys; along with the afore-mentioned story of the three dowerless girls, these legends gave birth to the idea of St. Nicholas as patron of the young, and of children in particular.

The legend of the three golden purses, or balls, led to his patronage of pawnbrokers (consequently, the three golden balls are the traditional logo of pawnshops).

A sweet-smelling oil which once mysteriously flowed from the saint's tomb led to his patronage of perfumers, which he shares with St. Mary Magdalene.
7. In the year 1087, St. Nicholas' relics were brought to this Italian city, were they were enshrined.

Answer: Bari

Until 1087, the relics of St. Nicholas were enshrined in a basilica in the city of Demre, Turkey. The transport of the relics relics was actually a clandestine operation which had the unofficial approval of the Roman church. In effect, the relics were stolen from the basilica in Demre.

The break between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church had become final by this point and the Roman church wanted the relics of this most prominent saint. There was also the fear that, with the many wars and invasions in the region, the relics would be stolen or destroyed.
8. St. Nicholas is the patron of Sicily, Greece, Apulia, Lorraine, and this country, where it used to be said "Even if God dies, we still have St. Nicholas."

Answer: Russia

St. Vladimir the Great of Kiev, who died in 1015, was the first Russian ruler to embrace Christianity. He established the cult of St. Nicholas (called "The Wonderworker"), who quickly became one of the most popular saints in Russia, second only to the Virgin Mary.
9. The name Santa Claus was probably derived from Sinterklaas (alternately Sint Niklaas, or Sint Nikolaas), which is what St. Nicholas is called in the language of this European country.

Answer: Holland / the Netherlands

During the Protestant Reformation, devotion to St. Nicholas was uprooted in nearly all of the European countries which embraced Protestantism in one form or other. A notable exception was the Netherlands, where Sinterklaas (the Dutch for St. Nicholas; the name is also, I'm informed, used in northern Belgium) continued to visit children and their families on December 5, the eve of his feast day. With the arrival of Dutch settlers to North America in the 17th century, this beloved tradition made its first appearance on American soil. An alternate theory holds that the name Santa Claus is derived from the German Sankt Nikolaus, who was replaced, after the Protestant reformation, by the Weihnachtsmann ("Christmas-man", rather like the English "Father Christmas") as well as the Christkindlein (Christ child).
10. As Europe became Christianized, certain deities who had been worshipped by the pagans were replaced by Christian saints, while still retaining many of their traditional characteristics. The transmogrification of St. Nicholas into Santa Claus represents probably the most striking example of this practice. Which of these pagan gods did NOT contribute some attributes to the St. Nicholas/Santa Claus legend?

Answer: Baldur

According to Scandinavian myth, Odin (or Woden, or Wotan) would visit earthly dwellings during the winter and leave a loaf of bread at the homes of poor families. He would also scatter gifts to the children of the frozen north from his sleigh, which was drawn by an eight-legged horse (or by a reindeer, in some versions).

It is easy to see where some aspects of the Santa legend derived from these legends. Thor, the god of thunder, was also connected with the winter and drove a chariot pulled by a pair of goats named Cracker and Gnasher, which may have been the inspiration for the reindeer names Dasher and Dancer in Clement Clark Moore's "A Visit From St. Nicholas".

The names Donner and Blitzen mean "thunder" and "lightning" in German and may also have been inspired by the Thor legend. Saturn was a Roman god, a giant whose return to earth every year in December was an occasion for great revelry and feasting.

This was known as Saturnalia, which the Church transformed into the feast of Christmas. Baldur was the beloved Norse god whose mother, at his birth, asked every plant and tree in Nature not to harm her son. Unhappily, she neglected to ask the humble mistletoe; taking advantage of this, the sinister god Loki fashioned a spear from the mistletoe and urged one of the other gods to throw it a Baldur, thus killing him.

There is a legend of Baldur's annual resurrection, which connects him to the Christ story (along with the Greek Adonis) and the Christmas tradition of kissing under the mistletoe derives from the legend that Baldur's mother declared that the plant that had killed her son should henceforth bring love, not death, into the world. However, there is no connection between Baldur and St. Nicholas/Santa Claus.
11. It was in the Church of St. Nicholas in Obendorf, Austria, that this beloved Christmas song was written on Christmas Eve in 1818.

Answer: Stille Nacht (Silent Night)

"Stille Nacht" was written on Christmas Eve in 1818 by Franz Gruber, to lyrics by Josef Mohr, and performed at the midnight service. Contrary to popular myth, the carol was not scored for guitar because the organ had broken down; it was traditional to perform a piece in folk-style at the Christmas Eve service in honor of the humble shepherds, who were the first to welcome the Newborn King.

These pieces were traditionally accompanied by a folk instrument, such as the guitar.
12. "Bishop's bread" and "bishop's wine" are traditional holiday treats associated with the feast of St. Nicholas.

Answer: True

Bishop's wine (also known simply as "bishop") consists of wine mulled with sugar, cinnamon, and a clove-studded orange. Bishop's bread is a sweetened bread, often containing raisins and/or currants. Both delicacies arose in Germany and parts of Eastern Europe in connection with St. Nicholas' feast.

In England, Bishop's wine is known simply as "Bishop" and is mentioned by Scrooge in Dicken's "A Christmas Carol". This occurs the day after Scrooge's "conversion", when he invites the astonished Bob Cratchit to discuss how best Scrooge can help his struggling family "over a Christmas bowl of steaming bishop".
13. A favorite tradition in parts of Europe for St. Nicholas' day was to give children the run of the house or school for the day and to elect a "boy bishop", or "Lord of Misrule", who would take charge of the proceedings. On which other Christmas-related church feast was this tradition sometimes practiced?

Answer: Holy Innocent's Day (December 28)

In honor of the Holy Innocents, who were the innocent and helpless victims of the mad King Herod, it was considered appropriate to give children dominion over adults for the day. In some places, the reign of the "boy bishop" would begin on St. Nicholas' Day and end on the Feast of the Innocents.
14. Santa Claus is also known as Kris Kringle. What is the origin of this name?

Answer: The Christ child who, according to German tradition, delivered presents on Christmas Eve.

Kris Kringle derives from the German "Christkindlein", meaning Christ Child. During the Protestant Reformation in Germany, Martin Luther determined to uproot the cult of St. Nicholas because of the excesses and abuses which had arisen around it. In its place, he propogated the tradition that, on Christmas Eve, it was the Christ Child himself, accompanied by angels, who brought gifts to children by night. Eventually, particularly among German and Austrian Catholics, the Feast of St. Nicholas reclaimed its place alongside the newer tradition.

A touching and charming account of these traditions is given by Maria von Trapp in her book "The Story of the Trapp Family Singers".
15. Visits from St. Nicholas on the eve of his feast day were (and are) a favorite tradition in many parts of Europe. Which of these classic children's novels describes such a visit?

Answer: "Hans Brinker; or, the Silver Skates" by Mary Mapes Dodge

First published in 1865, this beloved children's novel tells the story of the Brinker family and their tribulations when the father is taken ill. Chapter 9 consists of a vivid account of the visit of good St. Nicholas (no doubt an elderly male relation in disguise) to the Van Gleck household on December 5; he admonishes each child for his/her failings (such as mistreating the cat and playing pranks on the schoolmistress), commends them for their good qualities, and departs after scattering sweets for the young ones. The following morning, they are delighted to find their wooden shoes, left out during the night, stuffed with presents; sadly, though, there is no visit to the Brinker household.

A typical scenario of a Dutch celebration of this feast was vividly captured by the 17th century Dutch painter Jan Steen in his charming 1660 painting "The Feast of St. Nicholas". Steen's painting depicts a family surrounding a lavishly indulged little girl clutching her bucket of sweets and toys, along with a doll, while a weeping older brother, who has been presented with a switch, looks on. At the rear of the painting, a grandmother can be seen gesturing the boy into a back room where, no doubt, some consolatory gift awaits.
Source: Author jouen58

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