In Ontario, Iowa, and Massachusetts, the northerly province and states I've lived in, Christmas was just the beginning of winter. In Iowa, the first snowflakes fell the week of Halloween, and we were sometimes snowed in at Thanksgiving; yet there might still be substantial amounts of snow on the ground come March. In Toronto, winter hardly began before Christmas. The worst of it was in January and February, trailing off through March and usually gone by early April. In Massachusetts, even if winter was usually well over by then, late-season storms could dump down heaps in April; piles of residual snow often still stood in the shadows of buildings come spring semester finals.
Britain, in contrast, has clement weather. That there was snow at all this year shows that winter was worse than usual. Yet here it is, not even mid-January, and the prospect of spring hangs in the air. Tips of new-grown grass show green after the past few days' chill rain. It's not a mid-winter thaw, not here. Within the next few weeks, there will be daffodils. Here, spring follows shortly after Christmas**, just as the Beavers promised the Pevensies.
* If I remember correctly. I don't have the books in this country.
** And oh, have we had Christmas. We're still not done with it - we'll have more of it this weekend in D.C.
For those dictionary junkies among you, the OED is free for two days a week for the next month, thanks to the BBC's etymology show, Balderdash and Piffle! More precisely, the whole resource will be available for 48 hours after each episode broadcasts. (from 22:00 GMT on Mondays to 22:00 GMT on Wednesdays), until February 13th. The whole thing, available online, for your delectation. The OED is one of the things I use most through U of T's e-resources. I will miss my login. (Thanks to juniperus for reminding me what the tv show promised and I didn't quite believe when I heard it.)