2015-12-09 / Front Page

Test Your Knowledge Of Holiday Fun Facts

By Liz Goff

Each year at this time, the Gazette gathers little known facts and trivia for readers who want to test their knowledge of the holiday season.

We hope you take a few moments to spice up the season by testing the skills of friends and family with thus holiday trivia:: (Find answers to questions below)

  • Who is Silas Barnaby and who did he plan to “kidnap”?
  • In the 1700s, Christmas trees were hung, upside-down, from the ceilings of homes in Germany.
  • Buddhist temples ring bells 105 times on New Year’s Eve, to remember the hardships suffered by the Japanese.
  • Did you know, the word “toy” was originally derived from an Old English word for “tool”?
  • For many years, Clement Moore did not admit he wrote “The Night Before Christmas.” Where in Queens is there a playground named for Moore that displays a plaque boasting his authorship of the Christmas classic?
  • If you listen carefully, you can hear bells tolling at this time of year to mark the holiday season. But did you know that the bells first rang to keep away evil spirits and to announce a “new awakening”? Christmas bells were introduced in the United States with the arrival of Christianity and are used to call people to gather, rejoice and worship – and to announce the birth of the Christ child.
  • Many people celebrate Christmas Eve with a mug of mulled cider. But what exactly is mulled cider? The heated, spiced up cider dates back to medieval times, when adults and children sipped it to stay healthy and make it through hard, cold winters. The cider can be spiced up with honey, cinnamon or with liquor – mixtures handed down through generations of families. It’s the perfect way to stay warm when winter brings its holiday chill.
  • What marks the official start of the Christmas season in New York City?
  • Families throughout Queens gather to celebrate the holiday season while a “Yule Log’ burns in the background. Yule Logs, real of synthetic, have become a national symbol of the holidays. Do you know how, where and when the tradition began?

The Yule log began as a Pagan tradition when peasants would light a large log on the “darkest day of the year – Winter Solstice,” to keep evil spirits away. Legend has it that the log burned through the “longest night,” while the peasants waited for the sun to rise again. The ritual turned into a Christmas tradition, marking the sun’s “victory over darkness – a new light that has come to symbolize the birth of Christ.


  • Silas Barnabas, the evil villan in the Christmas Classic, “Babes In Toyland,” spends all of his time terrorizing townsfolk and small animals of Toyland, while trying to kidnap Little Bo Peep.
  • Moore Playground, a spacious wooded area in the heart of Elmhurst, is located on Broadway at 86th Street – just blocks from Queens Boulevard. A plaque on the entrance to the playground tells how and where Moore penned the classic Christmas tale.
  • It has been tradition, for 87 years, that the Christmas season officially begins in New York City when Santa, his elves and helpers step off his sleigh on Fifth Avenue at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Santa takes his place on his throne in the store’s “Winter Wonderland.” Rumor has it that Santa remains on the throne until midnight, December 24, when he mysteriously – and suddenly disappears, as bells toll throughout the city.



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