Ready or not, the holidays are here! Menorahs are lit, halls are decked, gift guides are out, and people are probably mad about Starbucks holiday cups again.
Drawing legions of Santa-besotted tourists from all over the world, Christmas in New York is a special kind of special. But it’s more than just a big tree and some fancy store windows. Test your New York Christmas knowledge with this short trivia quiz. If you’re good, Santa will deliver the answers at the end.
1. “I wrote the lyrics at the end of a bar in 15 minutes on the back of an envelope,” said Tin Pan Alley denizen Haven Gillespie, talking about a classic Christmas song. Which one?
(a) “Jingle Bells” (b) “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” (c) “Frosty the Snowman” (d) The Hallelujah Chorus
2. Edward Johnson, an employee of Thomas Edison, had the bright idea of using electricity to create what is now a Christmas necessity. What did he create?
(a) department store recorded music (b) moving window-display characters (c) Christmas tree lights (d) the Nutcrack-o-matic 1000
3. What location hosted the city’s first giant outdoor Christmas tree in 1912, in front of what was then the world’s tallest building?
(a) City Hall Park (b) Madison Square Park (c) Rockefeller Center (d) Theodore Roosevelt’s Big Stick Park
4. What acclaimed author of Where the Wild Things Are once worked on window displays for FAO Schwartz?
(a) Maurice Sendak (b) Ted Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss (c) Lemony Snicket (d) Stephen King
5. What is the Rockefeller Center tree trunk used for after it’s cut down?
(a) building materials (b) benches (c) mulch for city parks (d) taxi cab air fresheners
6. When did the city get its first female bell-ringing Sidewalk Santa?
(a) 1927 (b) 1944 (c) 1967 (d) 1995
7. St. Nicholas, the fourth-century bishop of Myrna, was originally the patron saint of all of the following except which one?
(a) bakers (b) mariners (c) pawnbrokers (d) children (e) losers in lawsuits
8. What New York author, creator of Ichabod Crane and Rip Van Winkle, turned St. Nicholas into the patron saint of Dutch New Amsterdam, who used a flying wagon to bring holiday gifts to well-behaved tots?
(a) James Fenimore Cooper (b) Walt Whitman (c) Washington Irving (d) William S. Burroughs
9. Illustrator Thomas Nast first drew Santa as a jolly fat guy in a red suit who lived at the North Pole. He also did all of the following except which one?
(a) coined the nickname “The Big Apple” (b) helped bring down Boss Tweed with his caricatures (c) created the donkey and elephant as the symbols of the Democrats and Republicans (d) depicted the Irish as apes
10. Clement Clarke Moore drew up plans for St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village. He owned an estate in Chelsea. He was a professor of Hebrew and Greek at General Seminary. Two of his children, according to a contemporary, were “a compound of imbecility deep beyond all fathom with an appetite for chambermaids beyond all precedent.” He wrote pamphlets on religion, agriculture and government, plus the book Compendious Lexicon of the Hebrew Language. What else did he write?
(a) A Visit from St. Nicholas (b) A Christmas Carol (c) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (d) Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
11. Daryl Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox, didn’t have much faith in the original Miracle on 34th Street. In what month did he release it in theaters?
(a) November (b) December (c) February (d) June
12. The first movie to open the traditional Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall apparently posed problems. According to Dr. Benjamin Spock, Nelson Rockefeller said that the hall had to reupholster all of the seats because “they were wet so often by frightened children.” What movie was shown?
(a) Bambi (b) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (c) Sleeping Beauty (d) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
1. (b); 2. (c); 3. (b) The Met Life tower, still standing at 23rd and Madison, was the world’s tallest building at the time; 4. (a); 5. (a) the tree is donated to Habitat for Humanity, to build homes; 6. (d) And their outfits were designed by Donna Karan; 7. (a); 8. (c); 9. (d); 10. (a); 11. (d); 12. (b)