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Seven facts about American Christmas Music

With that familiar chill in the air signaling winter’s imminent arrival, it’s time again to indulge our craving for Christmas music by singers ranging from Frank Sinatra to Mariah Carey. But first, let’s take a step back and explore the history of Christmas music with the following facts.

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Once upon a quiz

From Little Red Riding Hood to Frozen, the contemporary fairy tales we know today have their beginnings in classic versions that may seem less familiar at first glance. Inspired by Once Upon a Time by Marine Warner, we’re testing your knowledge of well-known favorites with the quiz below. Try your hand at the questions to see if you have what it takes to be King or Queen of fairy tale lore.

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A festive Festivus music playlist

As the holiday season is upon us, we thought we would recognize a tradition often lost in the hustle and bustle: Festivus. We’ve compiled our favorite, slightly more obscure seasonal tunes to wish you all a very merry Festivus season.

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The Lerner Letters: Part 3 – the unknown collaborators

This final post on my collection of the lyricist Alan Jay Lerner focuses on another exciting series of letters: correspondence with famous composers with whom Lerner hoped to work, but never completed a musical. Some of these letters reveal how certain figures – such as Hoagy Carmichael – wrote to Lerner but were politely declined.

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A holiday food tour

With the holiday season upon us, many of us are busy in our kitchens cooking secret family recipes and the season’s favorite delicacies. Looking at the delicious options in The Oxford Companion to Food, we compiled a list of various holiday specialties and treats from around the world that you may want to incorporate in your next holiday feast.

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Black Israelites and the meaning of Chanukah

The story that most Jewish children learn about the holiday of Chanukah is that it commemorates the Jews’ victory over foreign invaders and their sullying cultural influences. Around 200 B.C.E., Judea was the rope in a tug of war between two stronger powers: the Ptolemic dynasty of Egypt and the Seleucid Empire of Syria. The Seleucids, led by the kings Antiochus III & IV, won when Antiochus invaded Judea in 175 B.C.E.

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An enigma: the codes, the machine, the man

Prometheus, a Titan god, was exiled from Mount Olympus by Zeus because he stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind. He was condemned, punished and chained to a rock while eagles ate at his liver. His name, in ancient Greek, means “forethinker “and literary history lauds him as a prophetic hero who rebels against his society to help man progress.

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The longest night of the year

The winter solstice settles on 21 December this year, which means it’s the day with the least amount of sunlight. It’s the official first day of winter, although people have been braving the cold for weeks, huddled in coats and scarves and probably wool socks.

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Making light regulation work

A permanent problem of political and economic management – and one on which many people hold very strong opinions – is how to ensure commercial enterprises comply with society’s sense of fairness and justice without strangling them in red tape.

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Preparing for APA Eastern Meeting 2014

Look out Philadelphia!Oxford University Press has been attending the American Philosophical Association-East conferences for decades. The conference has been held in various cities including Baltimore, MD, Newark, DE, New York, NY, and Boston, MA. This year, we’re gearing up to travel to Philadelphia, we’ve asked our staff across various divisions to see what they are looking forward to.

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Almost paradise: heaven in imaginative literature

Paradise, a 1982 knock-off of the movie Blue Lagoon, stars Phoebe Cates and Willie Aames as teenagers who find themselves alone in a place of natural beauty and experiencing the ultimate joy together. Ann Wilson of Heart and Mike Reno of Loverboy can see forever in each other’s eyes in “Almost Paradise,” their Top Ten hit from the Footloose soundtrack (“Almost paradise / We’re knocking on Heaven’s door”). Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000) references the Elysian Fields, a paradise beyond this one where the blessed go when they die.

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Annie and girl culture

The musical version of little orphan Annie – as distinct from her original, cartoon incarnation – was born a fully formed ten-year-old in 1977, and she quickly became an icon of girlhood.

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10 medically-trained authors whose books all doctors should read

Sir William Osler, the great physician and bibliophile, recommended that his students should have a non-medical bedside library that could be dipped in and out of profitably to create the well rounded physician. Some of the works mentioned by him, for example Religio Medici by Sir Thomas Browne is unlikely to be on most people’s reading lists today.

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Druids and nature

How far back in time European communities began to recognize and chart the movements of the sun, moon, and stars it is impossible to say, but for the mobile hunting bands of the Palaeolithic period, following large herds through the forests of Europe and returning to base camps when the hunt was over, the ability to navigate using the stars would have been vital to existence.

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10 fun facts about sleigh bells

The ringing sound of sleigh bells is all too familiar around this time of the year. It’s the official siren signaling in the winter season. While a well-known signature staple on sleighs, Santa suits and reindeer, jingle bells haven’t always been associated with Christmas. They do much more than just ring in holiday cheer.

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