After you dutifully participated at -and maybe even organized, the Christmas celebrations at the office, attended several advent parties, strolled through many Christmas Markets, ate shameful amounts of Plätzchen (X-mas cookies), drank enough hot chocolate to fill your bathtub and got all festive with the fireworks at Silvester; reality hits and it is time to go back to work, the year is over, the holidays are over, the clothes that used to fit are also quite possibly over as well. Ok, we are grown-ups, we can do this. Except that it is really cold outside, the days are absurdly short and dark, it rains most of the days and depending on where you are you will also get your share of snow. Showering is a challenge, going out feels like torture and the gloomy appearance of the streets that are now dark because the shimmering decorations are being removed from all public spaces is not helping you.
What are the social alternatives during the winter in Germany now that all that short-wearing and sausage-grilling is unthinkable and the merry and Glühwein-fueled gatherings are over? I have carefully observed my peers and made a top 5 list:
- Kino (movie theater) is in season again. During the warm months, cinemas in Germany experience a low for which they surely recover during the winter because as soon as January hits, you will find that the Kino plans are all over your calendar and it makes sense: you meet at the entrance and run inside where it´s warm, lit and smells like butter.
- Art & Culture. Pretty much all museums and galleries are open even on Sundays -this is a signal from the Gods in a land where absolutely everything else is closed on Sundays. There are all sorts of museums everywhere, even small villages will have at least one. Did you know there´s a “Tractors and buses museum” near the Bodensee? Some are even free, so just pay them a visit for some sheltered fun.
- Theater night. I am not big at going to the movies, so going to the theater is even more of a rarity for me, nonetheless you´ll find a large offer ranging from independent productions in small cozy theaters to big flashy musicals Broadway-style. It´s not a rule, but older people will prefer this entertainment over the cinema.
- Getting Together. Please excuse my poor interpretation of the German expression Zusammentreffen. It turns out Germans are way more gregarious that we give them credit for, they love getting together and during the dark months, the multitudes that get together to grill and wander in the woods in the summer, find themselves reduced to a handful of people that meet on the weekends to cook some hearty soup and catch up with the latest life´s news.
- Sport is still an option. Not everyone´s cup of tea -definitely not mine. But raging from the more common ice skating at an artificial rink to weekend trips to the mountains or other regions where you can practice extreme winter sports, fact is the cold doesn´t stop those who like to stay active no matter what.
Of course there are more options and they tend to depend on the age group or how active your social life is, for further enlightenment, ask your nearest German! At any rate, try to make the best out of the chilly dark months and get ready for when the heat hits again (at least here in the south it HITS) and makes you miss the coat season after just a couple of sweaty days.