Plants have evolved many systems to sense their environment and to modify their growth and development accordingly. One example is vernalization, the process by which flowering is promoted as plants sense exposure to the cold temperatures of winter. A requirement for vernalization is an adaptive trait that helps prevent flowering before winter and permits flowering in the favorable conditions of spring. In Arabidopsis and cereals, vernalization results in the suppression of genes that repress flowering. We describe recent progress in understanding the molecular basis of this suppression. In Arabidopsis, vernalization involves the recruitment of chromatin-modifying complexes to a clade of flowering repressors that are silenced epigenetically via histone modifications. We also discuss the similarities and differences in vernalization between Arabidopsis and cereals.