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Google's holiday doodle serenades with 'Jingle Bells'

The latest holiday-themed doodle ditches last year's abstraction in favor of simple iconography including snowflakes and Santa, putting together a familiar jingle with glowing lights.

Google's doodle for the 2011 holidays.
Google's doodle for the 2011 holidays. Google

As it's done in years past, Google's put a bit of holiday cheer on its usually stark white search page.

The new design went live today ahead of Christmas. The doodle changes colors and plays "Jingle Bells" after users light up each note with their mouse. Clicking on the page itself does a search for "happy holidays."

The design itself is strongly reminiscent of the glowing Lite-Brite toys, which light up in various colors after being poked through thick, black construction paper. Once animated it looks like plain old holiday lights.

Last year's doodle was a bit more abstract, with a smattering of paintings that could be hovered over to enlarge. Together they spelled out Google, though at first glance looked more like a funky art exhibit. This time around, it's a fixture of easily identifiable holiday symbology, with snowflakes, Santa Claus, bells, snowman, candle, and wrapped present.

Here's what it looks like in action, courtesy of YouTuber MrDwiky01:

This is just the latest piece of Google's holiday-related efforts. Once again, the company is running its Santa tracker, a collaboration with NORAD that shows Santa Claus' location around the globe. Google-owned YouTube is also offering a snowflake button that adds gently falling snow on top of whatever video you're watching, as well as turning the progress bar counter into a single flake. And if that's not enough for you, Google is also offering a way to leave voice messages for Santa, as well as creating personalized video and audio messages for others using its site.

Google's doodles have long been a fixture to mark news, events, and people of interest. The designs are all made by Google's in-house team, who create everything from simple static images to more advanced interactive doodads, one of which was recently a full, working version of the game Pac-Man. For more on how doodles came to be, and what goes into making them, read my colleague Daniel Terdiman's story on the creative process.

Updated at 6 p.m. PT to note that the feature is once again live.