W is for Winter

Winter is winter right? We all know what Winter is and when Winter is. In the case of the North East of the States this year we are all too aware that it is NOW. This snowball was made by Child 2 thirty-one days ago. And it is STILL THERE.


But when we moved to Canada a few years ago, we found out that Winter in North America is not defined in the same way as it is in the UK. And as has often been the case, it was the one of the kids that brought this fact to our attention:

“Winter,” declared Child 2, “begins on December 21st” (I just had to re-type that. I wanted to write the 21st of December – very British).

“Well, no,” I said, brow a-wrinkling. “Winter is December to the end of February. Roughly”

But he wouldn’t have it. “No mummy. No, it’s not,” he said.

A few words about Child 2. He is a very sweet chap. Definitely the one that would give you the shirt off his back (or his last Rolo – they sell Rolos here, but did they have that advert I wonder?) But he can be stubborn.

Thankfully, in this case, we were both right. It turns out that in North America, Winter is said to begin with the Winter Solstice or the shortest day and this is Winter according to astronomical reckoning. Whereas in Britain, we use meteorological reckoning and describe Winter as the three coldest months of the year – usually December, Jan and Feb.

But the burning question consuming us now is not when Winter starts… but when it is ever going to end!?!?

Is it just me that finds it a little odd that over here Winter is only believed to have started on one specific date on the calendar, but the question of when it finishes is a matter of annual debate presided over by a rodent called Phil?



2 Comments Add yours

  1. anpedant says:

    I gave up caring about this one years ago. One of the few pedantries that I have allowed to slip (up there with “less” and “fewer”. I think it was when I realized that people are quite capable of believing that the shortest day of the year, midwinter’s night, falls at the start of winter and not the middle – and they have no problem believing these two contradictory things at the same time – that I decided that there were some arguments that you just couldn’t win through logic. And where actually, the outcome was utterly unimportant.

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