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How did Champagne come to be the first choice for New Year toasts?

Though there are now many sparkling wines, Champagne is specifically made from grapes grown in Champagne region of France. The double-fermented wine was served as part of festivities during the coronation of French kings -- a tradition that kicked off the beverage's association with luxury and a good party. If you are planning to buy a couple bottles of bubbly this holiday, be prepared to pay more. Poor crops have cut production of French wines by 20 percent, according to Bloomberg, triggering a sharp rise in prices.

How much has the stock market risen since the recovery began?

Since the current the bull market began in March 2009, the Standard & Poor's 500 index's has advanced 94 percent. Investor confidence has not recovered, however, and many who used to own stocks have avoided a return to the market -- losing the opportunity to regain some $200 billion of what they lost when the financial collapse wiped out $11 trillion in U.S. equity value, Bloomberg reported.

How did a toad from China get to South Africa?

The small Asian toad, now dubbed Jack B. Nimble, survived a trip of thousands of miles while trapped in a cargo shipment from China to Cape Town. South African officials were reportedly planning to put him down, out of fear he could cause harm as an invasive species if let go in the wild. Others, however, impressed with Jack's endurance, arranged for a permanent home for him in a Johannesburg animal sanctuary.

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By the staff of
The Washington Examiner