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Quiz: Origins of Popular Traditions
by Staff
We know what to do, but why do we do it? Many of today's popular traditions are based in acts and tales from long ago. Test your knowledge of some of these traditions' origins with this quiz!

Ancient Roman birthday candles were used to make a cake glow like the moon and carry wishes skyward to which goddess?

  • Demeter
  • Hera
  • Artemis

The traditional birthstones were first used on which of the following?

  • the Ark of the Covenant
  • the breastplate of Aaron
  • the seal of King Tutankhamen

Placing Election Day on a Tuesday in November is due to which of the following?

  • the significance of the number three in the days of the week
  • compromise between Republican and Whig parties
  • the needs of an agrarian society

Which of the following people claimed to have invented the high-five while playing basketball for Michigan State?

  • Dusty Baker
  • Magic Johnson
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

In 1952, brothers Pete and Jerry Cusimano threw which ocean animal onto the ice of a Detroit Red Wings game?

  • a sea star
  • an octopus
  • a bucket of squid

Which of the following ancient cultures used mistletoe to promote fertility in sheep?

  • the Greeks
  • the Celts
  • the Mongolians

What is one traditional function of a wedding's best man?

  • to ensure the groom goes through with the marriage
  • to ensure the bride goes through with the marriage
  • to ensure bridesmaids are entertained at the wedding

When you spill salt, you might throw a pinch over your right shoulder. Why?

  • to placate and/or hurt the devil watching from over that shoulder
  • to demonstrate your wealth
  • because Judas threw salt at Jesus on the cross

The tradition of freezing wedding cake to be eaten on the one-year anniversary is due to what?

  • the idea that a marriage is only truly official after it has held for a year
  • to celebrate the birth of an assumed child
  • because young couples were assumed to be too poor to cook a second cake for their one-year anniversary

We wave lighters (and now cell phones) during rock concert power ballads. Were did this tradition start?

  • at Woodstock
  • at the Doors' Aquarius Theater shows
  • during Hendrix's "Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire"