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Faith and Festivities 1
The Hot Cross Bun is originally and traditionally associated with which day in the Christian calendar?

Faith and Festivities 1

Faith and Festivities looks at how Christians celebrate.

Religion is (among much else) a way of life, with its high and lower points: and Christians ~ in all their own variety ~ have ways of marking these, both the regular and the occasional. How aware are you of some of these traditions?

1.
Along with all that shopping, one of the preparatory markers for Christmas, for many people, comes mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve when the BBC transmits 'the carol service' live on the radio, as it has done since 1928 ... from where?
Westminster Abbey
King's College, Cambridge
Canterbury Cathedral
Magdalen College, Oxford
The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols was first held in 1918 and has been broadcast every year, including during wartime, since ten years after that.
2.
Many practising Christians look somewhat askance at the annual high-jinks on Hallowe'en, with its queasy mixture of Gothic shock imagery and grasping, intrusive commercial opportunism. What link is there originally between this 'festival' and Christian belief, practices or traditional observation?
'Hallowe'en' is a simple linguistic corruption of 'Hello': a reminder to greet one's neighbours as the autumn evenings draw in
Hallowe'en derives from the 'halo' (an emblematic ring of light around the head of saints, and similar, in traditional depictions such as classic oil paintings and stained-glass windows), because this date is the evening before ~ or 'Eve of' ~ All Saints' Day
The Saints themselves are 'hallowed' (i.e. blessed and/or made special), and this is the night before the day when we celebrate them collectively
The origin is a deliberate mispronunciation of 'hell', where un-saintly people need reminding that they may be bound to go forever after their death unless they mend their ways with the turn of the new month (November)
Answer 3 is the most accurate explanation; our outer Answers (nos. 1 and 4) verge on the downright silly, as you probably spotted!
3.
Which is traditionally the most popular day in the Christian year for such services as Confirmation and Ordination?
Easter Sunday
Christmas
Whitsun / Pentecost
All Saints'
This day marks the coming of the Spirit upon the remaining Disciples, who then began the mission work of the Church. As 'the Church's birthday' it is therefore the most obvious and desirable occasion for people to choose to pledge themselves to some higher level of service within the church, in its wider sense, as adult members (through Confirmation) or even in the priesthood (by Ordination). This Sunday usually falls in the early summer, so stands about as good a chance as any of enjoying clement weather for such a significant event.
4.
Though widely available commercially for weeks at a time, beforehand and afterwards, the Hot Cross Bun is originally and traditionally associated with which day in the Christian calendar?
Ash Wednesday
Maundy Thursday
Good Friday
Easter Day
The Crucifixion took place on the original Good Friday (so-called because of that far greater good which was achieved through the supreme suffering of one person).
5.
Those churches that use them, will only put out their bright red altar frontals on certain special occasions within the cycle of the Liturgical Year, as detailed below. One of the Answers contains a false entry: which one?
Palm Sunday and Good Friday (the red representing Jesus' blood to be shed during the events of the original Holy Week)
Pentecost and Confirmation services (representing the flames of the Spirit descending on God's chosen)
Feast Days of saints, martyrs and apostles (who, literally or figuratively, 'gave their blood for their faith')
Trinity Sunday (a 'red-letter day' in the Church's calendar)
The proper liturgical colour for Trinity is white, after which any display linen will revert to green for the many weeks of 'Ordinary Time'.
6.
The Wedding March (as often played traditionally, or by default) was written by Mendelssohn as part of his incidental music for a production of which Shakespeare play?
Macbeth
Hamlet
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Troilus and Cressida
In context, it originally marks the wedding of the Fairy Queen to Bottom (who has the ears of a donkey): probably an image to banish from your mind, as you watch your next happy couple processing to the strains of this music!
7.
Which 20th-century British poet wrote a perceptive and much-loved Christmas poem in that passingly refers to

' ... tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath-salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous ties, so kindly meant ...' ?
Sir John Betjeman
Philip Larkin
John Masefield
Pam Ayres
The details may appear very slightly dated, but Sir John's wider observations about the commercialisation of Christmas remain relevant, pertinent and beautifully and accessibly expressed. The poem is called, simply, Christmas.
8.
The seemingly age-old custom of having a decorated evergreen tree indoors at Christmas, in fact dates back to ...
The Middle Ages
Pagan / pre-Christian Ancient Britain
... when Prince Albert brought the tradition over from Germany
... just after the Restoration of the Monarchy
The Germans (and other 'Nordics') have an understandable 'thing' about the trees and forests that dominate much of their landscape. The Yule Log, and other customs to do with evergreens at the darkest time of the year, have a long history, but only of less than two centuries in Britain. Each year's giant tree in London's Trafalgar Square is a gift from the people of Norway, in annual thanks for Britain standing alongside that country in the fight for freedom while Norway was occupied by the Germans during World War 2.
9.
A simnel cake, topped with 11 or 12 small globes of marzipan, is traditionally eaten to mark which Christian festival?
Easter
Mothering (or 'Refreshment') Sunday, in mid-Lent
Whitsun / Pentecost
Harvest
The marzipan balls represent the 11 Apostles ( = 12 disciples, minus Judas), with or without Jesus. It would be tempting to link this imagery with the commissioning of the Church on Whit Sunday, but that isn't the intention of the cake.
10.
Which of the following is NOT broadly true as to the origins and practices of Ash Wednesday?
In Biblical times, one way of publicly proclaiming one's sorrow and repentance was to go around wearing sackcloth (which was coarser and more irritating against the skin than the better fabrics available in those days) and also daubed with ashes (themselves visibly dirty, emblematic of the effective end of anything's existence or working life; and also painful when rubbing against the skin). This symbolism has been carried forward into the beginning of the Christian penitential season of the 40 days of Lent
Many Christians attend church on this day to focus themselves on Christ's period of suffering and deprivation, and to begin their own chosen devotions. They may go up to the altar rail (as though for communion, but sooner in the service) to be marked with a cross on their foreheads ~ an echo of baptism ~ but using a paste made with ash, which will remain visible at least until they wash
The ashen paste used in this 'imposition' is traditionally made using leftover palm fronds from the previous year's Palm Sunday. This embodies a sense of carrying-over from one year's observances to the next
Ash Wednesday usually falls during February or so (depending on the date of Easter, which is itself a rather complicated 'movable feast'); strict Christians deny themselves the creature-comforts of a home fire from then through until Easter, regardless of the weather. Ash Wednesday therefore marks a symbolic moment in the year: the last time they will sweep up a hearth. The time they would have spent doing this is then given over to prayer and Bible study
Answer 4 may have seemed plausible, but has no widespread factual foundation at all.

 

Author:  Ian Miles

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