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,
The last dodo was sighted late in the 17th century near Mauritius, but the creature’s place in popular culture was cemented by its appearance in Alice in Wonderland in 1865. After Alice and various animals fall in the Pool of Tears, the Dodo makes a suggestion. ‘The best thing to get us dry would be a Caucus-race,’ it suggests, and makes them all run round in circles. When asked which of them has won the race, the Dodo is stumped for a moment, but then declares: ‘Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.’ Natural selection is a more brutal game: extinctions are inevitable.