By David Tucker and Sarah Morgan Smith

More than 90 percent of Americans will celebrate either Christmas on Dec. 25 or Hanukkah from Dec. 12 to 20. For some, the observance will be primarily religious and for others mostly cultural.

The quiz below, from the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University in Ohio, provides an opportunity to test your knowledge of the holidays’ history and traditions in the United States.

1.  In 1659, celebrating Christmas in public was outlawed in which city?

A. Philadelphia

B. Newport, R.I. 

C. Richmond, Va.

D. Boston


2. Which was the first state to make Christmas a legal holiday?

A. Arkansas

B. Alabama

C. Pennsylvania

D. New York


3. In what year was Christmas declared a federal holiday?

A. 1870

B. 1972

C. 1824

D. 1931


4. During World War II, what leader said the following on a Christmas Eve broadcast from the White House: “Therefore we may cast aside for this night at least the cares and dangers which beset us, and make for the children an evening of happiness in a world of storm”?

A. Winston Churchill

B. Franklin Delano Roosevelt

C. Neville Chamberlain

D. Harry Truman


5. What presidential couple was the first to spend Christmas at the White House?

A. James and Elizabeth Monroe

B. Andrew and Rachel Jackson

C. George and Martha Washington

D. John and Abigail Adams


6. Jewish songwriters wrote which of the following popular Christmas songs?

A. “White Christmas”

B. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

C. “Silver Bells”

D. All of the above


7. Which president was the first officially to recognize Hanukkah?

A. Warren Harding

B. Jimmy Carter

C. Woodrow Wilson

D. Dwight D. Eisenhower


8. Rabbi Max Lilienthal of what city is credited with hosting the first Hanukkah party for children?

A. New York

B. Charleston, S.C.

C. Cincinnati

D. Baltimore


9. Who is considered the American “Mother of Hanukkah” and where was she from?

A. Penina Moise of Charleston, S.C.

B. Bertha “Beatrice” Alexander Behrmanm of New York

C. Rebecca Gratz of Philadelphia

D. Emma Lazarus of New York


10. Companies began advertising that their products made great Hanukkah gifts in the 1920s. What brand’s ad claimed their flour made “the best flour for latkes,” the potato pancakes traditionally served during Hanukkah?

A. Gold Medal

B. Pillsbury

C. Aunt Jemima

D. King Arthur


Answers:  1-D, 2-B, 3-A, 4-A, 5-D, 6-D, 7-B, 8-C, 9-A, 10-C



David Tucker is director of faculty for the Ashbrook Center’s Master of Arts in American History and Government program and co-editor, with Sarah Morgan Smith, of the Ashbrook Center book “Religion in American History and Politics: 25 Core Documents.” They wrote this for






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