The Christmas season technically begins on Christmas Day, not, as it may often seem, in mid-October. Christmastide – as the period is called in liturgical circles – lasts for twelve days, until 5 January, the night before the feast of Epiphany. The origins of the Christmas carol ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ are not entirely clear,
Carlo Parola was born in Turin in September 1921. He won domestic titles with Juventus as both a player and a manager and was capped ten times for Italy. But he is famous for his mastery of the overhead (or bicycle) kick. He didn’t invent the move (a version of it is depicted in an engraving of the first international match, Scotland v. England in 1872) but he was synonymous with it in Italy, where he was known as ‘Signor Rovesciata’ (‘Mr Overhead Kick’). He once played in Scotland, too, for a European Select XI at Hampden Park, in front of 137,000 fans in 1947. Showing off his signature move on the wrong side of a 6-1 mauling by Great Britain, he insisted that, despite the score, he’d played well and enjoyed the atmosphere. The Italian press still called him the ‘Man of Glasgow’ when he died in 2000.
According to meteorologists, the first day of spring is 1 March. Astronomers would say it’s 20 March. No one in the UK would have believed either date this year, as they battled through wind, snow and ice. Better perhaps to ignore the calendar and look to plants and animals for the first signs of spring: the flowering of daffodils, snowdrops and bluebells, the buzzing of bees, frogspawn in brackish water, the smell of wild garlic, the two-tone call of the Eurasian cuckoo.