It's Monday! Welcome back.

  • Partly sunny skies with temps reaching the low 40s.

πŸ¦… Situational awareness: The Eagles clinched a playoff berth in a 48-22 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday.

Today's newsletter is 885 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Philly removes box from Columbus statue

City workers cover the statue of Christopher Columbus at Marconi Plaza on June 16, 2020. Photo: Matt Slocum/AP

The city of Philadelphia on Sunday night removed the plywood box that for more than two years covered the Christopher Columbus statue in South Philly's Marconi Plaza, following a state court decision.

Why it matters: The 10-foot-tall statue was among several flashpoints during racial justice protests in 2020 following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which prompted the city β€” and others across the country β€” to reexamine historical figures they honor.

  • The latest ruling in Philly's years-long legal battle could have implications on attempts to remove controversial monuments elsewhere in Pennsylvania.

Driving the news: A panel of judges in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania on Friday reversed a 2021 decision that allowed the city to keep the 146-year-old statue enclosed in plywood.

  • Commonwealth President Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt wrote that Philadelphia has a responsibility to preserve the statue after accepting it as a donation in 1876 and designating it a historical object in 2017, NBC reports.

Catch up fast: The statue was boxed in June 2020 to preserve it while the city conducted a public process to determine its fate.

  • The Historical Commission voted in July 2020 to remove the statue.
  • The Friends of Marconi Plaza, a nonprofit that serves as a caretaker of the park, sued to keep the statue in place and remove the box β€” which was subsequently painted in the colors of the Italian flag.
  • A judge last year reversed the city's decision to remove it, the AP reports, saying it failed to provide evidence that the removal is necessary to protect the public.

What they're saying: The city was "very disappointed" in the court's ruling and continues to believe that the statue should be removed, a spokesman said.

2. Pics du jour: Army-Navy rivalry makes history in Philly

A Navy Leapfrog parachutes into the Linc on Saturday. Photo: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the first time in the famed rivalry's 123 game history, an Army-Navy matchup went to overtime, right here in Philly.

Zoom in: This weekend was the 90th time the game has been held here, Philadelphia Business Journal reports.

  • The event is estimated to bring 50,000 visitors and roughly $30 million in economic impact for the city, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates.

What's ahead: Philly won't host another Army-Navy game until 2027, per the Journal.

Army Black Knights run to join their classmates after the prisoner exchange at Lincoln Financial Field on December 10, 2022 in Philadelphia.
Army Black Knights run to join their classmates after the "prisoner exchange" ceremony on Saturday. Photo: Edward Diller/Getty Images

3. Reader responses: Your holiday traditions

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

πŸ‘‹ Mike here! Last week, we asked about your holiday traditions, and we loved reading about all of the ways you make this season special in Philly.

  • Here are some of our favorites:

πŸš— Carla M. said she goes on drives through neighborhoods to check homes with especially good holiday light displays.

🍽️ Mary S. said she buys a tray of braciole from Carlino's in Ardmore, which reminds her of the meal her aunt made for her as a child.

πŸ‘©β€πŸ³ Eleanor B. cooks a traditional Slovak meal, known as vigilia, with her mom. It includes 12 dishes, pierogies, haluski, beets, and a traditional Russian pie with mushrooms and cabbage.

  • "Cooking this large meal with my mom has so many warm and yummy memories and I cherish it every year," she said.

🧳 Perla C.'s New Year's Eve tradition is to wear yellow underwear, eat 12 grapes and take your suitcase around the block at midnight.

  • "The yellow underwear brings good luck, the grapes are for a wish each month and the suitcase will ensure you have a year full of travel and adventure," she said.

4. News Market

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚨 Patti LaBelle, the legendary soul singer from Philadelphia, was rushed off stage Saturday due to a bomb threat during a concert in Milwaukee. Police searched the theater but didn’t find explosives. (NBC Philadelphia)

βš–οΈ A state House Republican leader filed a lawsuit Friday to try and stop a trio of special elections for House seats set by Democrats for February. The legal maneuvering adds more uncertainty over who will control the chamber after Democrats won more seats in the November election but face three vacancies. (Penn Capital-Star)

🎼 The entire archive of the Philadelphia Orchestra's 175 years of history has been donated to the University of Pennsylvania's library. (WHYY)

Is a new job in your future?

πŸ’Ό Check out who's hiring around the city.

  1. District Manager at Insomnia Cookies.
  2. Financial Consultant, Metro Philadelphia Area at Santander.
  3. CEO Through Acquisition North America Q1 2023 at Novastone Capital Advisors.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a Job.

5. 🎁 Shop local: Your very Philly gift guide

The Kurt Vile print might just be Alexa's favorite. Photo: Alexa Mencia/Axios

πŸ‘‹ Alexa here. Last week, I asked for your recommendations β€”Β and trekked around the city β€” in a quest to discover the best Philly gifts for everyone on your list this holiday season.

  • Here are a few of my top picks:

Philly tarot card prints

Local illustrator James Boyle was hired several years ago to illustrate Philly-themed tarot cards for a Philadelphia Magazine story. After receiving an immediate outpouring of love for them, Boyle realized he struck a chord with the city.

Where to find: At the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market in Dilworth Park. You can also order online.

New Liberty liqueurs and aperitifs

North Philly's New Liberty Distillery might be known for their whiskey, but they also sell liqueurs and aperitifs that make great holiday gifts.

  • I personally love the coffee liqueur ($24.99) for all your espresso martini-making needs.

Where to find: New Liberty has a booth at the Christmas Village at Love Park and City Hall. It's open 11am-7pm through Dec. 24.

New Liberty's booth filled with bottles at the Christmas Village in Philadelphia.
Make sure to stop by New Liberty's booth at the Christmas Village. Photo: Alexa Mencia/Axios

Go deeper: Read the full gift list

πŸŽ‰Isaac is celebrating the start of the week.

😬 Mike has yet to start his holiday shopping.

πŸ› Alexa is still collecting Philly gift ideas. Send more if you have them!

Today's newsletter was edited by Alexa Mencia.