Advent Quiz, Part 1

9Dec

There are symbols and traditions around Advent and Christmas that even the most churched may not know much about. This Advent Quiz is part 1. Next week we’ll have part 2. I hope this enriches your understanding of Advent and even Christmas.

1. Is Advent a fixed number of days?
a. Yes
b. No
Check your answer.

2. Why are the Advent candles and wreath arranged in a circle?
a. It’s the easiest way to see all four candles.
b. It takes up the least space.
c. Circles symbolize eternity.
Check your answer.

3. What is a manger?
a. A feeding trough
b. A cave
c. A wooden cradle
Check your answer.

4. Why did churches first display Advent wreaths with candles?
a. It was a way to light churches before electricity.
b. The candles symbolized the coming of Christ as the light of the world.
c. Evergreens, originally used in the wreath, symbolized the eternal life that we have in Christ.
d. All of the above
e. None of the above
Check your answer.

5. What is the traditional Mexican living Nativity celebration called?
a. Feliz Navidad
b. Las Posadas
c. Nochebuena
d. All of the above
e. None of the above
Check your answer.

6. What do the Advent candles symbolize on the Advent wreath?
a. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
b. Angels, Wise Men, Shepherds, the Holy Family
c. Hope, Love, Joy, Peace
d. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
e. Nothing. They just mark the days until Christmas.
Check your answer.

7. Why didn’t Joseph divorce Mary after he found out she was pregnant?
a. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.
b. He didn’t want to lose the dowry.
c. Divorces 2,000 years ago were very expensive.
d. All of the above
e. None of the above
Check your answer.

8. How many days are in Advent this year?
a. 26
b. 27
c. 28
d. 29
Check your answer.

9. Why are many “Blue Christmas” or “Longest Night” services held on December 21?
a. That is the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.
b. It is close to Christmas Day.
c. It is the traditional Feast Day of St. Thomas (“doubting” Thomas).
d. All of the above
e. None of the above
Check your answer.

10. According to tradition, how far did Mary travel to visit Elizabeth?
a. Approximately 10 miles
b. Approximately 50 miles
c. Approximately 100 miles
d. Approximately 500 miles
Check your answer.

Answers

1. Is Advent a fixed number of days?

The correct answer is No.

The season of Advent, which comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming” or “visit,” begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. When Christmas Day is on a Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent is on a Sunday, so there are four full weeks to the season. If Christmas is on any other day, the total number of Advent days will vary between 22 and 27.
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2. Why are the Advent candles and wreath arranged in a circle?

The correct answer is Circles symbolize eternity.

Circles, because they have no beginning and no end, are a symbol of eternity, wholeness, and even the world itself. The wreath, a circle of evergreens (another symbol of eternity), is a reminder during Advent of our waiting for the eternal to come into our midst.
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3. What is a manger?

The correct answer is Feeding trough.

A manger is a feeding trough for cattle or horses and its mention in the Gospel of Luke suggests that Jesus was born in a stable or other rough form of lodging.

She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guest room. — Luke 2:7 (CEB)

While biblical scholars are not sure if the location was actually a stable, cave or other shelter, the inference is clear that the Son of God was born in the most humble of circumstances. The Nativity scene with its shepherds, sheep and other animals is a cherished Christian tradition that celebrates the ‘lowly’ birth of the Christ child.
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4. Why did churches first display Advent wreaths with candles?

The correct answer is All of the above.

While the Advent wreath with its four candles did bring light to churches, it was not to illuminate the interior as much as to symbolize the coming of Christ. The Advent wreath began in the time of Protestant reformer, Martin Luther.
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5. What is the traditional Mexican living Nativity celebration called?

The correct answer is Las Posadas.

Posada is Spanish for “lodging”, or “shelter.” The plural term refers to a nine-day celebration, a living Nativity scene, with a procession which includes people portraying Joseph and Mary, who knock on doors seeking shelter. The nine days represent the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy carrying Jesus.
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6. What do the Advent candles symbolize on the Advent wreath?

The correct answer is Hope, Love, Joy, Peace.

During each Sunday of the Advent season, we focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings us: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. The order and exact wording vary among churches, but the wreath continually reminds us of whom we are called to be as followers of Jesus.
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7. Why didn’t Joseph divorce Mary after he found out she was pregnant?

The correct answer is An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.

Like the angel Gabriel’s appearance to Mary, an angel of the Lord reassured Joseph in a dream that he could trust God’s plan; the baby his new wife carried was the Messiah.

As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. –Matthew 1:20-21 (CEB).

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8. How many days are in Advent this year?

The correct answer is 28.
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9. Why are many “Blue Christmas” or “Longest Night” services held on December 21?

The correct answer is All of the above.

“Longest Night” or “Blue Christmas” worship services offer healing and hope to those struggling to find joy during the Christmas season. Many churches hold these reflective services on Dec. 21, which is the winter solstice and longest night of the year. Falling just before Christmas, it is a wonderful time to remember that Jesus, the light of the world, is always with us. Finally, Dec. 21 is also the traditional Feast Day of St. Thomas the Apostle, whom many know better as “doubting” Thomas. Knowing how Thomas struggled to accept Jesus’ resurrection until he saw it with his own eyes, can be comforting to those hurting today.
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10. According to tradition, how far did Mary travel to visit Elizabeth?

The correct answer is approximately 100 miles.

The Gospel of Luke tells us that Gabriel visited Mary in Nazareth (Luke 1:26), telling her she would give birth to Jesus. Mary then traveled to the home of her relative Elizabeth, who Luke tells us lived in the hill country of Judea (Luke 1:39). Tradition says that Elizabeth and Zechariah probably lived in or near the city of Hebron, nearly 100 miles from Nazareth.

It would have taken Mary about a week to make the journey on foot.

Later in her pregnancy, Mary would travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, another journey of 70-80 miles one way.
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How did you do? Next week, we’ll test our knowledge of Advent and Christmas with some more traditions and symbols.

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