How to survive the German winter
How to survive the German winter
With Christmas markets cancelled, the longer nights drawing in, and a big question mark hanging over festive celebrations, the wet and cold German weather is undoubtedly weighing on people's spirits. But just a few simple steps will see you through the long winter months. Here are our six top tips for staying cheerful and warm during the German winter.
Those wise, practical Germans have a saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” If you’re going to make it through the German winter, you need to be properly kitted out. And we’re not just talking coats. Invest in some good, proper, waterproof shoes (when the slushy snow arrives, you’ll thank us), and then add fleeces, jumpers, hats, gloves and scarves to the mix. If you take the plunge on some thermal undies, you won’t even notice the chill.
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt during the coronavirus lockdown, it’s to appreciate the great outdoors. When the temperature starts to drop, it’s tempting to revert to hibernation mode, but delights await those who dare to venture outside. It’s thought that spending time in nature not only reduces melatonin levels (the body’s sleep hormone) but can also lower stress levels, thereby boosting the immune system. Added to which, Germany’s stunning scenery looks even more dramatic in the winter months. So head to your local lake, national park, or stretch of countryside, and soak up the calming atmosphere.
Get a SAD light
Everyone knows the importance of keeping your vitamin D levels up, but the unfortunate truth is that sunlight can be hard to come by during the German winter. Last year, we had a mean of just two hours and 20 minutes of sunshine per day. Talk about grey. Since winter getaways are likely to be off the cards this year, you could consider taking a supplement. Alternatively, you might want to invest in a SAD light - a so-called “light therapy box” that uses blue or white light to replicate sunshine and is used to treat SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
German food is rich for a reason - it evolved out of a cold, wet landscape and was designed to get people through the tough winter months. Forget about post-Christmas diets; hearty fuel is what you need to see the winter out - and this is where German cuisine really shines. Close the curtains, forget about the rain, and whip yourself up some creamy, cheesy, carby Käsespätzle. A spread of sausages, fried potatoes and fresh pretzels wouldn't go amiss, either. And having something in the oven helps to heat the house up as well. Two birds, one stone.
You need a way to work off all of those Schnitzels, so time to get those hands working. The kinds of activities that will see you through the German winter can all be done inside, on the sofa, and, ideally, in front of your favourite Netflix show. We’re thinking knitting, cross-stitching, sewing, painting, coding, woodworking - anything that takes your fancy. (Just to be clear: no amount of knitting will ever be enough to work off the German winter diet - but at least you’ll have something to show for your time when the sun finally emerges from behind the clouds).
Before the Danes came along with their Hygge, the Germans had Gemütlichkeit. It's everybody's favourite famously-untranslatable word. The dictionary puts it down as "cosiness" but ask any German and they'll say that it's "so much more than that". Whatever it means, it's your key to surviving the German winter. Surround yourself with good people (while following contact restriction rules, of course!), get a bottle of Glühwein, and put on a pair of fluffy socks. One of those YouTube videos of a merrily crackling fire wouldn't go amiss, either. In Germany, winter is all about cosiness, so just embrace it!
Video: Cat Trumpet / YouTube