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The mystical relationship between bells and the NFL

THE BELL: Big Ben

NAMED FOR: Sir Benjamin Hall, the commissioner who played diplomat between the architect and clockmaker; some believe it was named after Ben Claunt, noted boxer

WHERE IT RESIDES: The Clock Tower, Palace of Westminster

CORRESPONDING NFL FIGURE: Ben Roethlisberger, you know, Big Ben

MOMENTS OF INTERSECTION:

  • In Mars Attacks!, Big Ben was bobliterated by Martians; post-Superbowl XL, Ben Roethlisberger was perhaps not dissimilarly maligned in the imaginations of the Seattle Seahawks
  • In June of 2006, Big Ben's "Quarter Bells" were down for four weeks; In June of the 2006, Ben Roethlisberger was in a serious motorcycle wreck, suffering--among other injuries (he rode sans helmet)--a broken jaw and nose; but he was back in action for preseason games.

THE BELL: The Liberty Bell

NAMED FOR: Liberty wrought from the Revolutionary War (though it was originally referred to as the Independence Bell, the State House Bell, the Province Bell, or Ol' Yankee's Bell)

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WHERE IT RESIDES: Liberty Bell Center, Market & 6th, Philadelphia

CORRESPONDING NFL FIGURES: Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook & former NFL-er Tevita Ofahengaue

MOMENTS OF INTERSECTION:

    The Liberty Bell has cracked twice, though there's controversy over exactly when; Brian Westbrook suffered a cracked rib in 2004

    In April of 2001, Mitchell Guilliatt struck the bell four times, shouting "God Lives!"; he got nine months in jail & had to pay $7,093 in damages; In April of 2001,Tevita Ofahengaue was the last (246th) pick in the NFL draft, becoming that year's "Mr. Irrelevant"

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THE BELL: The Great Bell of Dhammazedi, fabled to be one of the most massive bells ever constructed

NAMED FOR: Dhammazedi, the 9th Mon King of Myanmar; while being transported by Portuguese looters in 1608, it sank to the bottom of the Dawpone River

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WHERE IT RESIDES: Lodged deep in the mud off Monkey Point; there have been plans to recover it, but as of now it remains buried.

CORRESPONDING NFL FIGURE: Mike Ditka, coached amazingly with the Bears (even though he was eventually fired) and perhaps was lodged in Monkey Point with the Saints. Any other intersections up for grabs.

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Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?
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Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.

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