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Ka-ching in the Season

If the holidays seem to take a bigger bite out of your budget every year, it’s not your imagination. The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend a grand total of $457.4 billion at retail stores this holiday season, an increase of 5 percent over 2005. Chicago’s contribution to that total will be roughly $12.8 billion.

Sacred Chicago

With a past steeped in medieval counterfeits and grave robbing, relics have been saddled with a bad rap almost as long as saints have been canonized. But the tradition itself predates Christianity; recorded veneration of remains ranges from Oedipus to Buddha. Today, the Roman Catholic Church reminds the faithful that these miniscule fragments—from bone chips to locks of hair to scraps of shroud—should serve as objects of reverence, not worship. Here’s where to see a few of these artifacts locally.

View Finders

We asked you to send in photos. You snapped to it. Over the course of two months, Chicago received more than 1,400 photo contest entries from avid shutterbugs ages 14 to 88 across the country. Although your favorite subject was Millennium Park (we received 467 images of the Bean alone), shots from the tops of tall buildings and pictures of tulips were popular as well. Sorting through submissions wasn’t easy, but these shots inspired us to give some familiar scenes—and a few previously unknown faces—a second look.