Christmas carols: test your knowledge!

I wrote this one a few years ago, when a friend asked me to come up with some party games for her Christmas open house. Here are the titles of fifteen familiar Christmas carols, which have been obfuscated by means of a plethora of highfalutin verbiage and tortuous circumlocution. See how many you can decipher.

1. Palestinian municipality of unimpressive size

2. Seraphic beings originating from a celestial location

3. I espied a trio of sea-going vessels

4. Somewhere sort of far off, in a feedbox

5. Spruce up the gathering place with bunches of seasonal greenery

6. Depart, and proclaim the news from an elevated location

7. May the Supreme Deity maintain you in a condition of jollity, fellas

8. It took place at 12:00 under a sky full of stars

9. Unbounded joviality to the inhabitants of this planet

10. Complete absence of nocturnal noise

11. I speculate in astonishment while perambulating aimlessly

12. On a particular occasion in a certain village associated with a prominent Hebrew monarch

13. The time from December 25 to January 6

14. Seasonal musical composition for hollow metal objects, typically having the shape of an inverted cup widening at the lip, that sound a clear musical note when struck, typically by means of a clapper inside

15. Seasonal musical composition for percussion instruments, typically cylindrical, barrel-shaped, or bowl-shaped, with a taut membrane over one or both ends, sounded by being struck with hands, sticks, or mallets

❆    ❆    ❆    ❆    ❆

ANSWERS: 1. O Little Town of Bethlehem; 2. Angels from the Realms of Glory; 3. I Saw Three Ships; 4. Away in a Manger; 5. Deck the Hall with Boughs of Holly; 6. Go, Tell It on the Mountain; 7. God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen; 8. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear; 9. Joy to the World; 10. Silent Night; 11. I Wonder as I Wander; 12. Once in Royal David’s City; 13. The Twelve Days of Christmas; 14. Carol of the Bells; 15. Carol of the Drums

12 – 15 correct: Pretty good, but don’t get a big head; it was an easy quiz
8 – 11 correct: You need to go Christmas caroling more often
4 – 7 correct: Obviously not a music lover
fewer than 4 correct: Ebenezer Scrooge

Feel free to post your score in the comment section below, assuming it’s something you’re proud of.


2 Responses to Christmas carols: test your knowledge!

  1. Fritz says:

    A tangent: Back in the Dark Ages, when I took Latin in high school, we learned the Latin version of a few carols. One of them was “Tinniat, tintinnabulum” (“Jingle Bells”). That one and several others can be found here:


  2. Ha! My Latin teacher never did fun stuff like that. I did, however, learn the Latin for “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” from my mother when I was a kid, and for some reason I remembered it many years later, when an elderly priest asked the congregation (most of whom were younger than he was) if anyone knew what “Mica, mica, parva stella” meant. He had grown up in the days when everyone studied Latin in high school, and he was sure that none of us young upstarts would know the answer. The look of astonishment on his face when I knew the translation was priceless.


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