Where did the predictions of a bitter cold winter get started?

This has been doing the rounds for a while now, and I would have ignored it totally if I hadn't recalled a conversation with my illiterate gardener in April, a Normandy based typical French peasant - salt of the earth! He was basing his predictions on natures cycles, having made observations over a period of 45 years working at the same property! Who can eplain away instinct and intuition, so I for one, are taking this seriously!

CatNat mentions the 1950's - I remember as a child on Hampstead Heath when it was so cold in the winter of 1953, the Canadian Airforce set up a ski slope, for reasons long forgotten, but it was truly a startling sight and has remained in my psyche! Lets not discount those medieval oil paintings of the London populace cooking oxen on a frozen over River Thames.................. fortunately I have shares with EDF!!!

Somewhere out there is a farmer's toe...