It's very very cold in here. Dragging the lazy body out of bed, dressing up (sadly, bare essentials during this time mean a minimum of two sweaters, thick overalls, winter jacket and gloves) and coming to the office with frozen ears and the nose seem like a painfully long process. Winter gets this wintry in Germany. And it stays FOREVER. However, there are reasons, more than one, why it still tops the list of my most favorite season.
In Calcutta, winter meant snuggling up to the mother and the brother under one blanket, skipping baths, nolen-gurer sandesh and pithe-puli (Bengali desserts made from date palm jaggery and milk), joynagorer mowa, picnics with the family and relatives, steaming cups of Bournvita/Horlicks with sunshine on the shoulders, old over-sized sweaters with long sleeves that covered the palms, Park Street and Esplanade during Christmas, a visit to St. Paul's Cathedral on the 25th, surprise gifts from parents, yummy food, book-fair, adda with best friends in Maidan, school reunions, and tidbits of romance thrown in here and there.
In Germany, winter is different. For one, it is extremely cold, with the temperature hovering somewhere around -15 degrees for the most part. For two, the extreme coldness is accompanied by snow. Snow is beautiful though. One afternoon you look out of the office window and suddenly notice thin light snowflakes falling from the sky and accumulating on the grass. Within minutes, everything turns white. You run outside in the freezing cold, and let the snowflakes fall on the hair. The joys of experiencing first snowfall, you realize with a grin. Two years, exact same experience both time. No signs of boredom still.
Associated with snow, also comes alpine skiing and other winter sports, for people who are bravehearts and not scary-poos. However, I have figured that I do not belong to that category, and therefore shall not write more on this.
Then there are these Christmas markets that marks the advent of Christmas. They are very popular in Europe, more so in Germany, and also a major contributing factor to my love for winter. These are usually street markets held in the main city squares, where one finds decorated open-air stalls selling hot food, mulled wine, roasted nuts, traditional gingerbread hearts and other seasonal items. In bigger Christmas markets, one can also find a variety of mind-numbing rides, traditional song and dance performances by the locals, innumerable decoration materials and that mouth-watering smell of baked cookies and crêpes in the air.
(The above picture is taken directly from Wikipedia. If you search for 'Christmas Market', you'll get this image. This is in Jena, the place where I live. *feeling-proud* moment. The rest are from Berlin).
Then comes the New Year celebration. In Germany, it is huge, and very loud. The day is marked by fireworks and crackers, alcohol, making toasts and never-ending parties. Every house is decorated, every corner and tree lighted up, with happy faces everywhere. Diwali in India, to a great extent.
On a personal note, however, winter means more- frequent parties at office, lots of glühwein, gifts from secret Santa, trips to local cathedrals, indulging in hot desserts and cakes without guilt, and a relaxing time with the guy(s). But then, there's one more reason why winter happens to be so special- it is that time of the year of going HOME :-)