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Friday Links

A visitor beside a holiday arrangement of hybrid poinsettias at the Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., December 10, 2018. (Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS)

December 21 is the winter solstice, the first day of winter, and the shortest day of the year. Here are science, history, and short video explanations of the celestial mechanics involved, plus descriptions of the concurrent celebrations of Saturnalia and Halcyon Days.

The Origin of the Myth of the Poisonous Poinsettia. Related, why we kiss under the mistletoe and how the plant got that strange name (spoiler — it literally means “dung twig”).

The 1914 Christmas truce.

The classic Christmas drunken fruitcake recipe: Check the whiskey. Pour one level cup and drink. Repeat.

That Christmas when Parisians Ate the Zoo.

Ten Important Facts About the Leg Lamp from  A Christmas Story.  Related: Ralphie teamed up with Flash Gordon in a deleted scene from the movie.

ICYMI, most recent links are here, and include the pre-Seinfeld origins of Festivus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’s origin story, and that time Santa Claus took the Union’s side in the Civil War.

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