What is Cotton Britches Winter?

It was cold on Tuesday.  My wife came home with a startling confession.  She admitted, “Today I heard the first person, outside of your family, talk about Cotton Britches Winter.”  Now, that always takes me back to my childhood.  My grandmother not only recognized Cotton Britches Winter, but adhered to a strict observance of four other “winters”, as well.


For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Southern tradition of naming the spring “cold snaps”, here is my grandmother’s list.  In her mind, it was not open to debate.


The first cold snap or winter was Redbud Winter.  It was followed, usually closely, by Dogwood Winter.  The following is the only area that was subject to interpretation:  Blackberry Winter and Locust Winter were often alternated in order, depending upon which one she saw blooming first.


That brings us to Cotton Britches Winter.    It was always the last chilly weather before warm weather stayed for a few months.  Her explanation of the name was priceless.  I can close my eyes and see her with a twinkle in her eye as she says, “When this little cold spell is over, you can put on your cotton britches because winter is over.”


I can’t wait for Cotton Britches Time.  How about you?



Filed under family, Home, Life, Nostalgia

5 responses to “What is Cotton Britches Winter?

  1. Barb

    that’s funny, where I live in Washington state we name the warm times not the cold. For example we have “fake spring in February”. We also NEVER assume that we can put away our winter britches! I was joking that we could write a poem about Easter in the Northwest–with a line like “how heavy of a turtleneck can I wear under that dress”

  2. connie

    It seems like I can vaguley remember my grandmother talking about cotton britches winter, but today a friend of mine reminded me of it. To be honest I wasn’t exactly sure if it was the name of some kind of plant or what. Thank you for clarifying exactly what “cotton britches winter” really is. It has definitely hit here in Middle Tennessee this weekend. I actually had to turn the heat on this afternoon.

  3. Jan

    This is a favorite memory of mine. My mother, grandmother and the rest of the family talked about the ‘winters’ each spring and enjoyed the blooming of each new shrub or tree. Cotton britches meant put your winter clothes away; summer is here to stay.

  4. Pingback: Cotton Britches Winter | suzansays

  5. Pingback: Good Grief, It’s Cold! | Wanderlustful

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