News In Brief

IT USED TO BE RIGHT THERE

In Graz, Austria, the centerpiece of the city's Christmas decorations has disappeared. But there's no suspicion that somebody stole it. In fact, police aren't even on the case. The item was a 6-1/2-foot-high, 7-foot-wide, 44.5-ton nativity scene, carved from ice by European, US, and Japanese sculptors and believed to be the largest of its type in the world. It had stood proudly out in the open for two weeks. But Austria is experiencing its warmest early-winter weather since 1768 and - you guessed it - the daily 60 degree F. temperatures have melted the creche into slush. The city was hoping smaller-scale figures could be refashioned if any of the ice was salvageable.

Dig deep if you buy '12 Days of Christmas' items online

Each year since 1984, PNC Advisors, a financial group based in Pittsburgh, has valued the goods and services enumerated in the popular song "The 12 Days of Christmas." Now, for the first time, PNC Advisors also has estimated the cost if the items are acquired online. The Internet total was significantly higher: $23,103.74, compared with $15,210.22 if bought traditionally. Shipping and handling charges mostly were responsible. The breakdown, with the traditional costs on the left and the Internet pricing on the right:

One partridge in a pear tree $113.00 $82.94

Two turtle doves $50.00 $104.98

Three French hens $15.00 $147.50

Four calling birds $280.00 $300.00

Five golden rings $250.00 $147.00

Six geese a laying $150.00 $255.00

Seven swans a swimming $3,500.00 $4,620.00

Eight maids a milking $41.20 $296.32

Nine ladies dancing $3,932.72 $6,000.00

Ten lords a leaping $3,660.80 $9,000.00

Eleven pipers piping $1,544.40 $1,550.00

Twelve drummers drumming $1,673.10 $600.00

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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