The Two-Way

A Moveable Feast: What Are You Leaving For Santa?()  

Aside from the traditional plate of cookies, some households planned to leave Santa gourmet surprises that would land most people on the naughty list at the local gym.

December 24, 2012 Milk and cookies might be the traditional Santa offering on Christmas Eve, but in at least one household, St. Nicholas will be getting smoked salmon and scotch.

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The Salt

Polish Christmas Wafer: A Flavorless Tradition That's Oh So Sweet()  

The oplatek, embossed with a Christmas scene, is shared among family members before Christmas Eve dinner.

December 24, 2012 Before Christmas Eve dinner, some families share the oplatek along with good wishes for each other. The tradition dates back hundreds of years: Back when bread was scarce, exchanging it with neighbors was a gesture of goodwill.

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The Salt

At Christmas, A Roman Holiday Revolves Around The Food()  

Christmas chocolate and sweets on display at a Christmas market at Piazza Navona on Dec. 20 in Rome.

December 24, 2012 The Italian city isn't big on Christmas glitz and glamor. Instead, Rome saves its holiday shine for the dinner table. The Christmas day meal might start with lasagna before moving on to turkey or guinea hen. And it wouldn't be complete without plenty of sweets.

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It's Not Jolly, It's A Job: You Need More Than A Beard To Be Santa()  

Charity workers dressed as Santa Claus wave to pedestrians in New York. Professional Santas say it's not an easy job, and it's not just as simple as putting on a beard.

December 22, 2012 If you have a few too many pounds around the belly, too few coins in the purse and access to a Santa suit this Christmas season, you might be thinking you could make a few extra bucks posing as Old St. Nick. Well, some professional Santas warn, it's not that easy.

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The Picture Show

The Life Of Christmas Trees, Before The Merriment()  

Ripshin Mountain, Carter County, Tenn., 2011

December 21, 2012 John Lusk Hathaway photographs Christmas tree farms while contemplating their place in environmentalism, consumerism and religion.

Summary

Broadway's Profit-Turning, Crowd-Pleasing Christmas Story()  

Jordan Gelber plays Buddy the Elf in Elf on Broadway. The limited-run production may not turn a profit immediately, but producers have a multipronged strategy for making money.

December 21, 2012 With hordes of tourists descending on New York for the Christmas season, Broadway is looking to turn a profit — by staging limited-run holiday musicals like A Christmas Story and Elf. But with production costs so high, how can these shows make money back? The answer, it turns out, is complicated.

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At A Real-Life Santa's Workshop, Christmas Comes Early()  

Lou Nasti runs a factory in Brooklyn that makes animatronic Christmas displays. He's been at it for almost 44 years.

December 18, 2012 An unassuming brick building in Brooklyn houses a factory that makes animatronic puppets, elves and polar bears for the holiday season. NPR's Neda Ulaby drops by Mechanical Displays Inc. to talk with Lou Nasti, who's been at it for almost 44 years.

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Monkey See

Jimmy Fallon And The Roots Help Restore The Charm Of Mariah Carey's Christmas Classic()  

A screenshot of Jimmy Fallon and Mariah Carey performing "All I Want For Christmas Is You" with The Roots.

December 5, 2012 Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, and Mariah Carey perform a stripped-down holiday standard.

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The Salt

Christmas Comes Early For Denmark's Beer Drinkers()  

J-Day, the first Friday in November, marks the release of Denmark's Christmas beer, Tuborg's Julebryg. It's practically a national holiday as the beer is promoted tonight in bars throughout the country.

November 2, 2012 The Danish tradition of releasing the Christmas beer on the first Friday in November started with a beloved TV commercial from 1980 for a straight-laced 140 year-old brewing company, and now it's practically a national holiday.

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Did 'Shrooms Send Santa And His Reindeer Flying?()  

The hallucinogenic mushroom Amanita muscaria.

December 24, 2010 Long ago, shamans — and reindeer — in the Far East were known to eat red and white mushrooms. And then hallucinate. A Harvard biologist asks, is it possible this is the source of the "jolly" man in the red and white suit and his "flying" reindeer?

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Shepherds, Wise Men, Animals: Were They All There?()  

Christmas pageant staged by the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City,  Texas.

December 23, 2010 The traditional representation of Jesus' birth includes a manger surrounded by shepherds, wise men and farm animals. But did it really happen that way? Many theologians acknowledge that the accepted Nativity scene is a result of 2,000 years of interpretation and elaboration.

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Kiss Away: Harvesting Mistletoe From The Treetops()  

Children kissing under mistletoe.

December 22, 2010 WUOTThis time of year, we're used to seeing a sprig of mistletoe hanging from the doorway — the inevitable invitation to a kiss. But we don't often think about how it got there. One hardy harvester in Tennessee collects it the old-fashioned way — by climbing to the tops of trees.

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Shots - Health News

5 Public Health Gifts For The Person Who Has Everything()  

Deworming Tablets from UNICEF.

December 11, 2010 Stumped for what to get loved ones for the holidays. How about deworming tablets donated to the needy in their honor? Or would you prefer breastfeeding classes for women in Indonesia? We round up some do-good gifts you can still buy in time.

Summary

Tracing Hanukkah's U.S. Roots ... To Cincinnati?()  

Rabbi Joshua Metzger, his wife Brocha, and their children Menachem Mendel and Sarah Perel stand by a menorah.

December 1, 2010 The Jewish community began reinventing Hanukkah in the late 19th century when the culture of Christmas also began shifting in America. The holiday became a way for Jewish children and families to celebrate a holiday when other Americans were doing the same.

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'Wind In The Willows': A Christmas Take On A Classic()  

Nancy Barnhart's illustration of the field mice, 1923.

December 25, 2009 This year's Christmas tale is adapted for radio from Kenneth Grahame's 1908 children's favorite The Wind in the Willows. Washington, D.C., actress Jennifer Mendenhall narrates Chapter 5 — "Dolce Domum," or "sweet home" — starring Mole and Rat.

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Miniature Train Displays That Draw From Nature()  

A miniature version of the U.S. Capitol, at the U.S. Botanic Gardens.

December 25, 2009 A small company's elaborate holiday model-train displays are built mostly of twigs, leaves and gourds from the company's home turf: a wooded ridge in northern Kentucky. As a result, people in Washington, D.C., New York and other cities can enter a miniature wonderland full of familiar landmarks.

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'Tinsel': Over-The-Top Christmas In Texas()  

Cover Image

December 21, 2009 Hank Stuever wanted to write about Christmas in America with a capital "A." Tinsel is the story of his journey to Frisco, Texas, where the lights are brighter, the Christmas trees are taller, and the reindeer are faster.

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Gift Ideas: Tools For The Dedicated Baker()  

Cake plate

December 10, 2009 Dorie Greenspan, the author of Baking: From My Home To Yours, suggests — among other things — a rolling pin made of nylon, cookie scoops and a cake plate for your favorite baker to show off sweet creations.

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Sen. Hatch Writes 'Extremely Catchy' Hanukkah Song()  

Sen. Orrin Hatch at Sen. Ted Kennedy's memorial

December 9, 2009 The senior senator from Utah wrote "Eight Days Of Hanukkah" in time for the Jewish holiday that starts Friday night. He did it in collaboration with Atlantic national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg — who says he's "pleased as punch" Hatch wrote it a decade after Goldberg suggested it.

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From Dickens Himself, Notes On 'A Christmas Carol'()  

Charles Dickens

December 4, 2009 Charles Dickens performed his famous story in public more than 150 times. Now the handwritten changes he made during those hugely popular readings are on display at the New York Public Library.

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