Old English, “fourth season of the year,” from Proto-Germanic *wentruz (cf. Old Frisian, Dutch winter, Old Saxon, Old High German wintar, German winter, Danish and Swedish vinter, Gothic wintrus, Old Norse vetr “winter”), possibly from PIE *wed-/*wod-/*ud- “wet” (see water), or from *wind- “white” (cf. Celtic vindo- “white”).
The Anglo-Saxons counted years in “winters,” cf. Old English ænetre “one-year-old.” Old Norse Vetrardag, first day of winter, was the Saturday that fell between Oct. 10 and 16.
“to pass the winter (in some place),” late 14c., from winter (n.). Related: Wintered; wintering.
There may or may not be snow. But we say
it’s here, this time, and we cover ourselves
in layers, like onions, hoping to stay
the tears we think shouldn’t be there, and that
we want to hide, but not just from others.
Families may congregate, feeling safe
like churches, like herds, welcoming the new
members, imagining those lambs we lost.
And so we celebrate. We distract us
with ritual, with love, because we want
to be happy – that gift we can never
get – or give – enough of. There may be snow.
How would we live without expectation?
A man in the street shivers. He may be at home.