tiS thE season of Rejoicing! TIme for Caroling, sUgAr cooKies, anD FaMily iNfiGHting! hoWever, there's an eXtra sPecial reasOn this wilL be the Best holidaY season eVer. there's Just one Question, now, though. what's given me such Zeal and enthusiasm for this holiday? i can't wait!

I apologize in advance for this puzzle. I had such grand ideas, but then so much of it ended up being forced instead of meta with itself. :( Doesn't change the fact that the answer is still a legitimate reason to be excited for December!

I will be providing intermittent hints as necessary. :)


10/11/17 11:51 AM Pacific Time

The title holds some significance to solving the puzzle.

10/12/17 11:47 AM Pacific Time


10/13/17 11:34 AM Pacific Time

I've been reading a lot about Kryptos recently...

10/16/17 11:56 AM Pacific Time

Giovan Battista Bellaso had a hand in the creation of this type of puzzle, even if it doesn't bear his name.

10/16/17 11:55 AM Pacific Time


  • $\begingroup$ Did you mean distraction, not distration? $\endgroup$
    – boboquack
    Oct 10, 2017 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ :D yes. I'll fix it. $\endgroup$
    – phroureo
    Oct 10, 2017 at 21:55
  • $\begingroup$ OK So if we go through everything that's incorrectly capitalized,there is every letter of the alphabet... except D . So that's no D... And it's very difficult to read on here, but the italics look like spelling out cicesurt... and everything that's not capitalized but should be spells out tithtwi.... hmmm $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2017 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ spoiler/hint? there's a capitalized D there, for sure. Also, I realized that I had an extra "U" italicized. :P $\endgroup$
    – phroureo
    Oct 10, 2017 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ Ah I didn't notice that as it was part of the Distraction,so I mentally removed that.. $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2017 at 23:57

4 Answers 4


The reason you can't wait for the holidays is:


Most of the legwork has already been done by others, namely:

There are 26 unique capital letters, which probably form a substitution key. The bold letters spell Distraction. The italic letters spell cicessrt. The many hints lead towards a Vigenère cipher, probably a keyed Vigenère.

Unfortunately, using the capital letters as alphabet and using Distraction as key and cicessrt as text (and vice versa) to decode doesn't yield anything. (The most recent hint confirms that the capitals form the alphabet, but "Distraction" was just that - a distraction.)

A recent comment by the OP ...

... says that no-one has done anything with the first hint, which says that the title is important. Now the title has the letters can't wait in all caps. Using cissert as Vigenère key and cant wait as encoded text, we get the plaintext "Star Wars".-

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Aye! Anyone want to go with me? $\endgroup$
    – phroureo
    Oct 17, 2017 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ Ugh thank you for solving this! I swear I did everything with the Vigenere cipher but I clearly did it wrong. I mustn't understand how to do it, but this puzzle has been bugging me for a week. $\endgroup$
    – Tas
    Oct 17, 2017 at 22:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tas: Yeah, I had been stuck here for quite some time, too, even if it was clear that the used encryption was keyed Vigenère. Only the comment about the title brought me on track. (The usual thing is to put a hint in the title, but not crucial information. And in Vigenère ciphers, the key is often a regular word or phrase, whereas the encoded message looks like gibberish. So, yeah.) $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Oct 18, 2017 at 6:27

Hm I made an attempt, but ultimately this is too difficult for me.

As Kit points out, all the letters in the alphabet appear capitalised, in this order


The bolded letters spell out


And the italicised letters spell


Interestingly, those letters all appear within

The first 6 spaces of the capitalised letters S E R T I C

But that didn't seem to lead me anywhere.

I attempted to use a caesar cipher and got nowhere, as well as using

The capital letters as the order of the alphabet: S = a, E = b, R = c, T = d

Which gives


Which I thought might be hex but seems meaningless. And also a caesar cipher on it returned nothing.

CW as this isn't an answer, but might at least help someone!

  • $\begingroup$ The caesar cipher was a good guess! You're on the right track for sure! $\endgroup$
    – phroureo
    Oct 11, 2017 at 2:56
  • $\begingroup$ Also, it looks like you're missing an italicized letter. $\endgroup$
    – phroureo
    Oct 11, 2017 at 2:57


Spoilers Below! (Answer is too long to spoiler tag everything)

Why I made this question

In essence, what I said in hint #3 is the truth. I started reading about Kryptos, failed miserably while trying to do anything close to solving it, and decided to make a Vignere cipher of my own.

Originally, I wanted to have an onion of a cipher--My intention was to have a first cipher that was solved with the "Can't wait" phrase, then a second that was solved with the original puzzle phrase. Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men.

Creation Process

I eventually realized that my intention was foolish--it turned out to be MUCH more complicated than I expected to create a single layer--let alone a layer that ALSO had a specific keyword to replace both words, let alone two layers doing so.


I started out by making a table that looked something like this:

S T A R W A R S 

This would give me the key phrase that I wanted to use, as well as my answer. I then consolidated it down so that it looked like this:

S T A R W 

Notice that the W and the A from "CANT WAIT" were consolidated into the column header.

If you look at a Vignere cipher table, you'll notice that the table has the letters going in rows from SW to NE, kind of like this:

A B C D 
B C D A 
C D A B 

That meant that I had to re-order my columns and rows to match that kind of pattern. Now that I'm looking back, I realize that I may have been able to do this a bit differently by doing the columns differently, but /shrug.

In any case, the grid started to take shape

 S(e)R T(i c u)A
(e)R T i c u A 
 R T i c u A 
 T i c u A 
(i c u A 
 c u A

With these letters, I had most of what I needed in the grid. I'll be completely honest--I can't remember how I came up with this order for the beginning letters. Most of the ones towards the end of the sequence were determined randomly.

As the grid took shape, I began to "unsolve" the puzzle. I looked at S(tar Wars) in the top row, found the "C" in that column, and then that row header was the letter I needed (Okay, bad example). This gave me the first letter of the "Palimpsest" for my puzzle, which was C. I repeated the process for each letter:

column header | Letter found | Key phrase letter
S             | C            | C
T             | A            | I
A             | N            | C
R             | T            | E
W             | W            | S
A             | A            | S
R             | I            | R
S             | T            | T

Sentence creation

After that was done, it was a simple matter to write a phrase that used every letter in the order that I wanted so that I could capitalize the appropriate letters. I made sure to use the appropriate key in the title, too, because what's more fun than layers?

I also added the formatting to the letters that spelled "DISTRACTION" to make possibly seem like there was even more going on.

In all, if I had to do it again, I would probably handle it a bit differently (especially the creation of the Vignere square), but I had already spent a couple hours working on the puzzle.

I hope that you guys had some fun solving it. You can anticipate more puzzles from me in the future. :)


Incomplete answer, will add more:

Transcriptions of capitalized, incorrectly capitalized, etc:



Incorrect lowercase: thti

Incorrect capitals+lowercase: tSERICUAKDFMNGHhWXPOLBYVtJQWZi

Italics: cicessrt

Bold: Distraction

Hints 2 (rot13) and 3 refer to Kryptos, which may hint at the Vigenere cipher, or a transposition cipher. Hint 4 suggests that it is Vigenere, but I have yet to find anything with that. I think cicessrt may be the Vigenere key for something, but I'm not sure what. Also, the capitals may be a key for a substitution cipher.

  • $\begingroup$ You are certainly on to something with your spoiler! $\endgroup$
    – phroureo
    Oct 16, 2017 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ You might want to recheck your incorrect letters. I see at least two errors. $\endgroup$ Oct 16, 2017 at 18:08

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