People all around the world live in places and conditions almost unfathomable to others. Some people live deep in isolated jungles with little to no electricity, others choose to live in trailer villages in the Southwest of the United States, and while Berlin is by nearly all accounts a desirable place to live, the coldness of the place creates a challenge which is overcome in some of the most beautiful ways.

The coldness of Berlin can come in both mental and elemental forms. Germans aren’t famous for their warmth in personality, and larger cities are less likely to create an inviting environment. Couple that brusque character with long, dark, cold winter days, and you’re looking at difficult times for six months out of the year. But somehow people survive it; in fact … they thrive. So, how does Berlin keep its charm during the darkness?

It’s a combination of many things, but it all comes back to the idea of “Geborgenheit” or homey security. It’s about building a space that is your own from public to home. It’s amazing how much effort Berlin gives to create an almost magical existence in the grey months. While many cities across the world put up holiday decorations, Germany and Berlin have built a tradition of public joy in the form of Christmas markets. Adorable little cabins sell paper lanterns, rock lamps, wooden figurines and a plethora of other goods, which offer a both literal and figurative glow. The energy of joy and the intoxicating smell of candied nuts, hot chocolate and the ubiquitous “Glühwein” offers respite from the winter. The power is not just in the actual markets themselves, but the effort to create a joyous space. The markets can get packed and uncomfortable, but it’s the vision of them as you bike or drive by, and the spices in the air that offer a sense of winter wonder when you’re feeling cold.

Like in the markets, there’s something about Glühwein that creates a communal spirit from fall to spring. With freezing temperatures and an unforgiving wind chill, Winter is all about the house party or gathering, which centers on the guise of drinking a Glühwein or two. But spending the majority of your time inside your home can be oppressive for some, so Berliners have learned to make the home a sort of oasis. Your apartment is your space to design as you please, and with winter it’s all about creating a sort of gentle luminosity. Fairy lights are in no short supply and cozy home décor from lamb’s wool carpets to Pendleton blankets enhance a sense of comfort and intimacy. Seasonal Affective Disorder is not only very real, but very common. A main key to evading it is by creating brightness and warmth in other ways, and the home is perhaps one of the most important places.

What’s quite interesting is the balance created by the Berlin winter. It is the cold, harsh reality of the environment outside of one’s apartment walls that produce an incentive to build a personal oasis. The sense of happiness, joy, and comfort created offers a greater element of satisfaction, which permeates into other parts of life. So, while the storms rage outside, Berliners are happy and cozy in their home, alone with a book, or enjoying another glass of Glühwein with friends, and the winter will come and go as it does, making people more resilient, more creative, and more content.

In collaboration with Black Label Properties.