January, watch your head

Out with the old, in with the new. For the most part, January’s messaging is about starting afresh, setting goals and becoming a better version of the person we were the prior year. New year, new you. Walk through Berlin throughout January, and you’ll definitely notice that the joy and merry cheer of christmas is definitely over. And not only due to the heavy, grey skies hanging above. On most street corners you’ll find bare and disheveled christmas trees. Sometimes in piles, sometimes alone.

Wind-back two weeks and these guys were hand-picked for their healthy green needles, their symmetry and perfect height. Symbolising fertility and christianity these trees stood tall in their temporary home, lavishly decorated and adored.

And then to this.

These sad trees are truly January’s symbol of turning over a new leaf.

But that’s not the worst part. I’ve recently learnt that many living in apartments (which represents the majority of Berlin inner-city living), throw their discarded tree out the window. Although illegal in Germany, Ikea’s infamous new years advertisements here and here, depicting the Swedish tradition “Knut” somehow make it it seem ok.  

I was sceptical when friends shared their experience of throwing their tree from their 3rd floor window. That was until I was 10 metres away from a tannenbaum nose-diving from the 7th floor as I made my way home from work one night. I couldn’t believe my eyes, not to mention relieved to have be unscathed from any pine needle injuries.  

On a more serious note – January in Germany, or the northern hemisphere in general, can be tough for many. Myself included. Over the last few years I’ve noticed how much more mental strength is required to stay positive when the days are mostly short, dark, grey, cold, and wet. Where every second person is sporting a hearty cough, the streets a sea of thick coats and of people burying their face behind layers. This weather definitely has the tendency to reveal the nasty in everyone. On a daily occurrence you’ll witness a brave crazy cyclist scathing and swearing as he or she races through busy traffic. January is just not fun.

My remedies:

  • escape to the sunshine (many have cottoned on to this one);
  • immerse yourself in some serious winter sport spectating (e.g. The Streif: Kitzbühl’s legendary downhill race);
  • keep active with some indoor or outdoor sports (hello endorphins!). And if all else fails,
  • close the blinds, bake some banana bread and embrace hygge while you spend the month catching up on Netflix series.

The good news? We made it, unscathed. Here’s to the final stretch of winter!

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