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This puzzle is part of the Puzzling Stack Exchange Advent Calendar 2023. The accepted answer to this question will be awarded a bounty worth 50 reputation.

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Identify the eight thematically linked answers and provide the 11 letter name of the puzzle.

Grid

Solve on Penpa+

Across

1. Ultimate puzzle in horse ID. (7)
5. Save bucks covering golf tour. (7)
9. Made Roman ruins as reminders. (9)
10. Petit bourgeois Russian announced revolution shortage. (5)
11. Genuine hill salesman. (7)
12. “Auditory functional neurologic disorder” is a term of respect. (7)
13. Jane’s California friendship. (8)
16. Many practice philosophy with spiritual leader. (6)
18. Jumping not very quietly for sport. (6)
19. Low-life spread race-bait. (8)
21. Steep staircase beginning, ending and following always in Germany. (7)
23. Rosie, for example, flower conceals alien. (7)
26. On board ticket checks for boat. (5)
27. From first principles, a premier atomic explosion. (9)
28. Shamed for evil edict’s content. (7)
29. Fed inside, fed outside attendant. (7)

Down

1. Organised crime led by character, figuratively. (7)
2. Masters serpent. (5)
3. Prostitute has no game. (5)
4. Produce categories on the extremities. (8)
5. Cartoonist’s receptacle. (6)
6. Desirable situation, for example, LeBron on first team without fail. (9)
7. Trashy novel; true offer. (9)
8. Breaking jointless prime parts, recovers from fracture. (7)
14. Strain to regulate vote limit. (9)
15. Inner sanctum on arch: a layout fit for a king. (9)
17. Acting defensive from settling around railroad. (8)
18. Scoundrel’s fiddle. (7)
20. In relation to a continent, far out setter is competent. (7)
21. Paraphrase article for no remuneration. (6)
24. Hurl against drop. (5)
25. Bag man’s symbol. (5)

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1 Answer 1

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This puzzle is a...

palindromic crossword, where the eight thematically linked answers are four pairs which comprise the same letters backwards and forwards:

1A NAMETAG and 29A GATEMAN
5A DELIVER and 28A REVILED
5D DRAWER and 21D REWARD
8D REKNITS and 18D STINKER

Construction-wise, each pair occupies rotationally-symmetrical spots in the grid, and the reason this is a significant puzzle for today is that today's date - 21/12 (or 12/21) - is itself a palindrome!

Further, note that the title, "Oh oh oh" is Santa's "Ho ho ho" greeting reversed!

The completed grid:

Completed grid

Clue explanations:

Across:
1. Ultimate puzzle in horse ID. (7) NAMETAG = NA(META)G
5. Save bucks covering golf tour. (7) DELIVER = DE(LIV)ER
9. Made Roman ruins as reminders. (9) MEMORANDA = MADEROMAN*
10. Petit bourgeois Russian announced revolution shortage. (5) KULAK = “coup lack”
11. Genuine hill salesman. (7) REALTOR = REAL (Genuine) + TOR (hill)
12. “Auditory functional neurologic disorder” is a term of respect. (7) EFFENDI = “FND
13. Jane’s California friendship. (8) CALAMITY = CAL (California) + AMITY (friendship)
16. Many practice philosophy with spiritual leader. (6) DOZENS = DO (practice) + ZEN (philosophy) + S_
18. Jumping not very quietly for sport. (6) SKIING = SKI(-pp)ING
19. Low-life spread race-bait. (8) BACTERIA = RACEBAIT*
21. Steep staircase beginning, ending and following always in Germany. (7) IMMERSE = IMMER (‘always’ in Germany) + S_E
23. Rosie, for example, flower conceals alien. (7) RIVETER = RIV(ET)ER
26. On board ticket checks for boat. (5) KETCH = _KET CH_
27. From first principles, a premier atomic explosion. (9) AXIOMATIC = A + XI (premier) + ATOMIC*
28. Shamed for evil edict’s content. (7) REVILED = _R EVIL ED_
29. Fed inside, fed outside attendant. (7) GATEMAN = G(ATE)MAN

Down:
1. Organised crime led by character, figuratively. (7) NUMERIC = NU (character) + CRIME*
2. Masters serpent. (5) MAMBA = MA + MBA (two Masters degree qualifications)
3. Prostitute has no game. (5) TAROT = TAR(O)T
4. Produce categories on the extremities. (8) GENERATE = GENERA (categories) + T(-h)E
5. Cartoonist’s receptacle. (6) DRAWER = ddef (Cartoonist | receptacle)
6. Desirable situation, for example, LeBron on first team without fail. (9) LAKEFRONT = LAKE(F)R + ON + T(-eam)
7. Trashy novel; true offer. (9) VOLUNTEER = NOVELTRUE/*
8. Breaking jointless prime parts, recovers from fracture. (7) REKNITS = (-b)RE(-a)K(-i)N(-g jo)I(-n)T(-les)S (i.e. only the letters in prime number positions)
14. Strain to regulate vote limit. (9) LEITMOTIV = VOTELIMIT*
15. Inner sanctum on arch: a layout fit for a king. (9) MONARCHAL = _M ON ARCH A L_
17. Acting defensive from settling around railroad. (8) PARRYING = PA(RR)YING
18. Scoundrel’s fiddle. (7) STINKER = S (‘s) + TINKER (fiddle)
20. In relation to a continent, far out setter is competent. (7) AFRICAN = FAR* + I (setter) + CAN (is competent)
21. Paraphrase article for no remuneration. (6) REWARD = REW(o → A)RD
24. Hurl against drop. (5) VOMIT = V (against) + OMIT (drop)
25. Bag man’s symbol. (5) TOTEM = TOTE (bag) + M (man)

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  • $\begingroup$ Right on the money (I was actually thinking of rot13(FRZBEQAVYNC) as the title, but this is a quibble). $\endgroup$
    – Daniel S
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielS Aha, I see. I couldn't quite decide which 11-letter variety to go for, but I figured it was in that ball park, so I just plumped for one of them in bold in my opening line and hoped you wouldn't mind too much, as I figured I'd hit upon the correct answer in all other aspects and that the rest would be semantics :) A very wordy way of saying: Noted, thanks! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 16:27

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