Family Secrets: Weirdest Holiday Decor Quiz

By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

The "jolly old elf," St. Nicholas, is a deeply ingrained part of Christmas tradition. But the Santa Claus character is a very different creature from culture to culture. Which of the following is one of Santa's strangest traditional holiday activities?

An Icelandic legend dating back to the 17th century describes 13 Jolasveinar, or "Christmas Boys," who, among other things, were said to steal naughty children to serve to their troll parents. Over time, the legend has grown gentler; now, the Jolasveinar fill children's shoes with small gifts, or potatoes if the children have misbehaved.

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Which of the following has NOT been made into a Christmas tree ornament?

Like many aspects of traditional holidays, Christmas tree ornaments have adapted to modern culture's tastes. Collectible ornaments now come in a dizzying variety of themes, and represent movie figures, sports stars, popular cars and an array of other things that have nothing to do with the holidays.

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What is a presepio?

Italians take their nativity scenes seriously. Some communities hold long-running annual contests to see which neighbor has the best presepio, and the scenes can contain elaborate decorations, scenery and armies of figurines.

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From which nation does the Christmas Pickle originate?

Claims to the origin of the Christmas Pickle vary widely. The game of hiding a pickle-shaped ornament deep within the boughs of a Christmas tree may have been a German parlor game, or it may originate from the story of a Civil War soldier who, dying in a Confederate prison, was saved when his jailers gave him a pickle to eat. Today, tradition holds that the first person to find the ornament on Christmas Day earns an extra gift from St. Nicholas, a year of good fortune or some other prize.

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How big is the world's largest holiday light display, and where is it located?

This is another answer open for a little debate. While the Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Hong Kong's multi-building light display as the largest in the world, the largest HOLIDAY light display, according to the UK paper The Guardian, is the massive digital display mounted like a giant awning over a shopping plaza in central Beijing. The giant screen is, in turn, second to an even larger (but non-holiday themed) display at the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas, NV.

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Where does Times Square's New Year's Eve ball originate?

Before the development of small, accurate timepieces, knowing the exact time of day was a difficult task. To help keep clocks accurate, many cities installed time balls: large, brightly painted globes that could be hoisted and dropped on tower-mounted flagpoles. At certain times of day, the ball would drop, giving everyone within sight of the tower a reference to reset clocks and watches.

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Where does the tradition of breaking the Thanksgiving turkey's wishbone come from?

The tradition originates with the pre-Roman Etruscans, a Mediterranean culture that believed chickens and roosters had special fortune-telling powers. After ritually sacrificing a bird, the Etruscans would break the wishbone -- the bird's collarbone -- as a fortune-telling ritual. The tradition spread throughout the Old World and came across the Atlantic with the first settlers.

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A number of traditional holiday activities centered around young women's prospects of marriage in the coming year. Which of the following was one of these holiday traditions?

Victorian-era maidens followed a tradition of eavesdropping on their neighbors during the nights leading up to Christmas. According to superstition, overhearing the word "go" meant the girl would hear wedding bells in the coming year, while hearing "sit" meant 12 more months of being a bridesmaid, not a bride.

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How old is the world's oldest edible fruitcake?

Jokes about fruitcake never going bad have some grounding in fact. The large quantities of liquor and sugar that go into the sweet, heavy cake actually serve as preservatives. According to reports in the Austin Chronicle, the oldest documented fruitcake was made in 1878. After the maker died, her family kept the fruitcake intact -- allegedly, they didn't have the heart to eat it. The fruitcake made an appearance on the Jay Leno Show in 2003; comedian and host Jay Leno actually ate a sample of the cake.

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Which holiday pastime has turned into a sanctioned sport?

While some events, like fruitcake throwing, occasionally highlight local festivals, the founders of Major League Dreidel (MLD) have taken the Hanukkah tradition to a whole new level. The New York City-based group hosts an annual tournament and sanctions events around the country. And while the events are high on the silliness factor (competitors sport nicknames like "Spinny the Pooh"), MLD markets a sanctioned "spinagogue" playing board through its Web site.

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What is a caganer?

Believe it or not, caganers -- tiny figurines of political, sports and pop-culture icons doing their private business -- are very popular in nativity scene-obsessed Italy. Italians traditionally hide caganers in elaborate nativity scenes known as presepio. Finding the caganer is a common holiday parlor game.

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About This Quiz

As the holidays approach, some of the decorations that emerge from basements and closets may have you scratching your head. What are the backgrounds behind some of the more bizarre items that you see adorning the homes of your friends and neighbors?

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