As South Africans, we are used to having great weather most of the year. Our summers are hot and the winters short. There is also not much difference in the sunrise and sunset times between the seasons.
Our houses are built to keep the heat out and we suffer through the two relatively cold months of July and August with extra blankets, heaters, jerseys and OBS.
Winter in Germany is much darker and longer. Depending on where you live, it is mostly overcast, cold, windy, dark and wet.
It is good to know that the south-west of Germany has more sunny days than the rest of the country.
So just how do you survive the winters here?
The first is to get your mindset right. Celebrate each season.
October is full of beautiful fall colours and can still be mild.
November is colder and we are already in Winter time (One hour behind SA).
End of November is when the fun starts.
The Christmas markets are open and there is a festive atmosphere everywhere you go.
December is full of everything Christmas. Embrace it!
Go to the markets, eat too much Lebkuchen, drink too much Glühwein.
Get together with friends and learn about the German Christmas traditions.
Most towns will not have a white Christmas, although it may snow in the mountain regions.
January is much colder and, if you are lucky, it may snow where you live.
The mountains will be full of snow. Get your winter woollies, winddichte Jacke, gloves and Mütze on and enjoy the outdoors. If it gets too cold, enjoy a nice sauna or go to an indoor swimming pool.
February. For me this is the most difficult month, I just want winter to be over. It is getting lighter but not warmer yet. Just hang in there… almost spring. Along the Mediterranean it is already warmer, if you need to take a short break.
March is when spring starts, you will see flowers everywhere and think, yay, it is going to be warm soon… don’t be deceived .. March is still cold and the trees only start getting leaves in April.
The nice thing about winter in Germany is central heating. Your core temp stays high. Shops, the S-bahn and busses will also be heated. This of course means you have to take off your jacket when you are inside.
The Germans will tell you there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. In some sense it is true. Get the right clothes to keep you warm and then go outside! The trick is to layer your clothes and wear shoes that can handle the cold, rain and snow.
Please leave comments on how you get through winter