How well do you know the religious story of Christmas?



By: Olivia Cantor

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Christmas is a worldwide celebration. This yuletide holiday brings cheer to families and is celebrated uniquely in many countries. But do you actually know the religious story behind the Christmas tradition? Take this quiz and find out!

The religious story of Christmas can be found in which text?

The Bible contains one version of the story of the world. It begins with God’s creation of the universe. Many of the chapters in the grand book serve as accounts of the figure who inspired it.


In which section of the Bible is the story of Christmas found?

The Bible is split into two, regardless of versions. These divisions are known as the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Christmas story is contained in the New Testament.


While the New Testament carries many historical accounts written by many authors, which two books are the only ones that tell the Christmas story?

The first part of the New Testament contains the Four Gospels. These were authored by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But only the books of Matthew and Luke account the birth of Jesus.


The birth of Jesus actually has a formal term in the Christian world. What is it?

The Nativity of Jesus is the marker of Christmas in the Christian world. It is significant because Jesus is seen as the savior of mankind and the announced Son of God.


The Nativity of Jesus is anticipated by the beginning of a Christian season known as what?

The beginning of the Advent season marks the preparation of the Christian world for the coming of Jesus. “Advent” is actually a Latin word which means “coming.” The coming or arrival of the Son of God is therefore the highlight of the season. Advent includes the four Sundays before Christmas.


To mark the time before Jesus arrives, Christian churches use what Advent material to signify each passing week?

This very Lutheran tradition of using an Advent wreath was also adopted by many Western Christian churches. One of the four outer candles is lit each Sunday, beginning on Advent Sunday. All four candles will be lit when the four weeks of Advent have passed. If there is a fifth candle, it is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.


In the Biblical story of Christmas, who is the identified mother of Jesus?

Mother Mary is the identified mother of Jesus. She was chosen to carry the baby in her womb. This is why in many Catholic churches, her name is also affixed with the word “Mother” or “Mama” before it. But she would be aided by other people chosen by God.


Why was Mary’s sudden pregnancy so important in the Christmas story?

In modern interpretation, Mary was just technically engaged. This means she was yet to marry someone. And in Biblical times, premarital sex was not allowed, hence the "miracle pregnancy."


Which of the angels visited Mary to announce her childbearing status?

Angel Gabriel is known as the official messenger of God, in a way. He delivers God’s messages to chosen people. He appears in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible several times.


To whom was Mary engaged?

Joseph came from the line of David in the Old Testament. It is not clear how Mary and Joseph met and came to be engaged. It is one of those “found subplots” in the Bible that doesn’t have much back-story.


What was Joseph’s actual job?

Joseph was a carpenter. He would be influential in this way, since he would inspire Jesus to also be a carpenter. But eventually, Jesus will also be a “carpenter of men” as Christian symbolisms interpret how He also works with the broken people and repairs them for their salvation, and to be closer to God.


If Mary was a virgin, how was she impregnated with the Son of God?

The Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost in some accounts is responsible for Virgin Mary’s impregnation. It is an abstract representation, in a way, of how God sometimes works. Without it, the Holy Trinity of God the Father, God The Son, and God The Holy Spirit will not stand.


Who else from Mary’s family knew of Mary’s virgin birth?

Mary was close to her older cousin, Elizabeth. She immediately shared the news with her. But Elizabeth was also visited by an angel who told her of this news beforehand.


When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, the latter also had some news to share. What was this news?

Elizabeth was also pregnant when Mary visited her. It is implied that Elizabeth's pregnancy began before Mary’s. This was significant since it was thought that Elizabeth couldn’t bear a child, but God changed that.


Elizabeth’s pregnancy is important in the story because this signifies how God prepared for Jesus’ coming. Which important Biblical figure will Elizabeth give birth to?

Elizabeth will give birth to John The Baptist. He will grow up to be sometimes mistaken as the actual Son of God.


Where were Mary and Joseph living when the news of the future birth came to them?

Both Mary and Joseph were living in Nazareth when the holy message arrived. Nazareth is located in the Galilee region. This region is located in the northern part of what we now know as Israel. Jesus is sometimes referred to as Jesus of Nazareth.


In the Old Testament of the Bible, the book of Micah contains a prophecy that Jesus would be born somewhere other than Nazareth. Where is this designated birthplace?

Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem in Judea, which is located six miles south of Jerusalem. Bethlehem was also the birthplace of King David.


King Herod The Great was the current ruler of Judea when Mary and Joseph traveled there. Which ruling empire did Herod serve?

King Herod was one of the Roman Empire kings designated to rule a smaller area of the empire. Each smaller area contributes economically to the empire. Therefore, Bethlehem, as part of Judea, was ruled over by the great Roman Empire under Herod.


Prophecy aside, what was the primary reason why Joseph and Mary traveled from Nazareth to Jerusalem?

The Roman Empire wanted to count all the people they governed, so they ordered a census. But they wanted to count the people who were born in a given area, not the people merely living or working there. Thus, Joseph had to go back to his original city of Jerusalem for this census, taking the pregnant Mary with him.


Joseph walked during their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, while Mary rode on what?

Mary rode on a donkey since she couldn’t walk so far, due to her pregnancy. The donkey is usually used by simpler folks to transport goods or carry people. In the Bible, the donkey is also a symbol of peace.


A “rumor” went around that a prophecy foretold of the birth of what specific person, alarming the Roman Empire’s King Herod?

Certain prophecies had been circulating about the coming of the Son of God. One such term was King of the Jews. He was known as such because He was supposed to be the savior of the people, especially the oppressed, like those under an empire's rule.


Due to the overcrowding of people for the census, what couldn't Mary and Joseph find in Bethlehem?

Since there were no formal inns during this time, extra rooms of houses were offered to travelers. But Bethlehem ran out of such rooms when Joseph and Mary arrived. The couple were forced to seek shelter in a place where domesticated animals also took shelter.


Due to the nature of Joseph and Mary’s temporary quarters, Jesus was born and placed in what kind of structure?

The image of the baby Jesus being born in very simple surroundings implies humility. To be born in the manger signifies that a prophesied king could have humble beginnings. It also foreshadows how Jesus could relate to poor people.


The tradition has baby Jesus wrapped in what type of material, being a newborn?

The symbolism of the birth of Jesus is supremely important in the Christian world. Jesus, the future king of the people, had no luxurious wraps or clothes when he was born. Even though the swaddling cloth is a traditional baby wrap of that time, Christians still find humility in it.


The angels announced the birth of Jesus to a group of what sort of men?

The fields around Bethlehem where Jesus was born were full of simple folk. The shepherds were among them. They were so enamored with the angels who sang about the birth of Jesus that they went to find the newborn and give praise.


The Magi also sought to visit the newborn Jesus. What is another description for them?

The Magi were actually a group of dignified foreigners who traveled from the east to honor the newborn Jesus. It is not known just how many Magi there really were. But their three gifts assigned them a number, assuming one man carried one gift.


What were the two non-metal gifts that the Magi brought to Jesus?

The Magi are also referred in some accounts as The Three Kings. Thus, it was assumed that they would bring Jesus very precious gifts that would be important to him upon His birth. During that time, myrrh and frankincense were used for healing purposes or for cooking.


What kind of precious element did the Magi give to the baby Jesus?

Gold comes in many forms - it was used for barter before being used as actual currency. During Biblical times, gold was associated mainly with royalty. That’s why it’s significant that the King of the Jews received gold as a gift.


The three important events connected to Jesus’ birth, from the Annunciation to the Visitation and the actual Nativity, are all part of which Catholic prayer structure?

The Rosary signifies important events in the lives of both Mary and Jesus. The 15 beads are made up of 3 sections called mysteries, with each section highlighting specific events. The Joyful Mysteries contain the story of the birth of Jesus.


The Magi consulted with King Herod prior to looking for the rumored King of the Jews. Herod asked them to advise him when they found the newborn so he could also pay homage. What was his actual plan?

The longstanding prophecy about the birth of the King of the Jews alarmed King Herod. He thought that this king would liberate the people he was governing. As a result, he wanted to kill Jesus, to avoid His rise to power.


The Magi were guided to where Jesus was born by following what?

The Magi were travelers who used the stars to navigate. But even with the Star of Bethlehem as their guide, they also asked for directions. This is how they ended up consulting with King Herod about the whereabouts of the supposed King of the Jews.


The Magi doubted Herod’s sincerity, so they didn’t report back to him when they found Jesus. What horrible event did Herod cause to occur?

The Massacre of the Innocents is mentioned in the book of Matthew. King Herod ordered the killing of all newborns and babies of up to about 1-2 years of age born in or within the vicinity of Bethlehem, in order to hopefully kill the supposed prophesied King of the Jews.


The arrival of the shepherds to Jesus’ manger actually has a formal name in the Nativity story. What is it?

The Adoration of the Shepherds is an important detail in the Nativity scene. It signifies that poor and common people could approach this future king. This is why the Nativity scene always includes simple folk, like shepherds, around the newborn Jesus.


The arrival of the Three Wise Men also has a formal name. What is it?

The Magi are often referred to as The Three Wise Men or the Three Kings. The Adoration of the Magi is significant. The symbolism shows that even important people like wise men or kings will bow down to this future King of the Jews. The baby’s importance is acknowledged by wise and powerful worshippers, as well as by shepherds and common people.


Although the actual birth date of Jesus is unknown, on what date does the Christian world celebrate the birth of Christ?

In the Bible, there is no actual mention of the date when Jesus was born. It was the Catholic figure, Pope Julius I, who marked December 25 as the official day of the birth of Jesus. This decision was made during the 4th century AD, long after the death of Jesus.


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