“The 12 Days Of Christmas” – Alone in Zurich?

The holiday season is nearly upon us, I am sure most of us are ready for a well-deserved break from work. Why do I bring this up? There are two main reasons for discussing it.

1) You need a break from work.
2) You might be alone on Christmas.

The first reason is that the human body needs a break to recover motivation and energy. In fact, extensive research by Harvard Business Review has found that more holiday time not only improves energy levels and happiness, but is also linked to improved success rate and chances of promotion. You can read the findings of this research here.

The second reason is specifically for globally mobile professionals. While the holidays may be a time of joy and happiness for most people, they can be quite bittersweet for the lonely expat. That is because some of you may not be able to return to your families. Maybe you have lost loved ones around the holidays. Maybe you are no longer close with your extended family and your friends are all married with kids.

In Zurich, there is a high likelihood that you haven’t made any close friends yet. It could also be that like one of my friends you are in the middle of your next move and taking time off isn’t an option. You can check our relocation guide for ideas.

So, if you are worried a little about how to handle the holidays here are our ideas for the holidays on your own.

“The 12 Days of Christmas” – Alone in Zurich

Although technically the 12 days of Christmas don’t start until 25 December, we will approach this topic creatively. I also understand that the 12 nights are more important in tradition and mythology and it depends on which sources you read. Here the first magic night is on 20 December “Thomasnacht”.

This year you have a good chance to have two weeks off with a small amount of vacation days or overtime compensation.

Before starting on this topic I would like to invite every reader and client who is not Christian to enjoy the fun around our holiday traditions with us. Full self-disclosure: I come from a catholic background and I live in a relationship with a non-practicing Muslim. I usually only go to mass on Christmas Eve with my grandmother, because I know it makes her happy.

Being a Christian means to me to be a good human and about giving to others and yourself. In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter what your faith is as long as you aspire to do good in the world. And if you only believe in science or the force I shall like you as well.

For me, Christmas is also a time where I connect with my inner child and give this child all the love it deserves. I believe that my honouring rituals around the 12 days of Christmas I collect the energy that I need to be supportive as a coach and productive as  consultant.

20 December: Collaboration Day
I was surprised to be invited to an office party on the Friday before the holidays but I assume that it’s a great day to celebrate because by then hopefully all the urgent work is done. It’s nice to say good-bye to work colleagues and look back at everything we have achieved together. In our culture we tend to forget to celebrate the success and value collaboration. So try to appreciate at least one colleague you worked successfully with this year and give them a hand-written thank you card.

21 December: Decoration Day
Buy a Christmas tree at Bahnhof Stadelhofen or in your neighbourhood. Put on the “Jingle bells” youtube mix and decorate your home and your Christmas tree.

22 December: Catch up Day
Catch up with old friends via video chat. Being stuck in a foreign country during the holidays is never ideal, more so if you don’t have family or friends there. A luxury not afforded to pre-internet expats, but still in no way a replacement for family and friends, is video chat. While not the ideal replacement for the people you are missing, it can allow you to keep in near-constant touch and keep the holiday spirit fresh in you. In fact, this can also be a perfect time to reconnect with old friends and catch up.

23 December: Crafting Day
Go offline for crafting on the day before Christmas eve. If you have been in a work frenzy in the build up to the holidays you probably want nothing more than switching off. If I had time off I would do something crafty like making my own ornaments, bake Christmas cookies and a gingerbread house. Tag us when you share photos on instagram.

Do all your laundry because you cannot wash between Christmas and New Year. We call this time “zwischen den Jahren” (between the years). I like this expression and did a bit of research.

24 December: Giving Day
Read a novel to an elderly citizen on Christmas Eve. I’ve never spent Christmas Eve alone as far as I can remember. You probably know that I come from a big family and I hardly find time to see all my relatives.

If I was ever alone in Zurich on Christmas Eve, I would do my grocery shopping for three days and then use the chance to read to someone. In my neighbourhood I often see lonely elderly people.

There is also a shelter for homeless people and you could volunteer there.  Or check with your religious community if you can help a child with a present.

25 December: Skiing Day

After you opened all your presents to yourself why don’t you go to the mountains and check out if there is a chance for a skiing day. Alternatively, you could organize yourself a museum tour of Zurich with a lovely Christmas dinner at a cozy place like Rosaly’s or Wilder Mann zurich. Probably you could meet a few lonely hearts in Bohemia zurich. I would probably check if I could get a ticket for the opera or the Schauspielhaus.

26 December: Boxing Day

I don’t know why it’s called Boxing Day in English. Maybe it’s time to put a few things in boxes? Or box away the calories? My grandmother calls this day “Stephanstag”. This is a holiday in Zurich and shops are closed so you could plan a spa day or again go outside. For example, take the S-Train to Greifensee and walk around the lake for a while. Later, I would go to one of the nicest hotels in Zurich for afternoon tea and sip a glass of champagne.

27 December: Career Day 

Go to the office and update your LinkedIn profile with Nabeha’s tips. It’s time to review your work year. Write down one big accomplishment for every month or check the reporting facility in the RockMeApp.

Have lunch with a poor colleague from HR, Accounting or IT who has to work and wants to get home. With a cup of hot cocoa (or Gluehwein, if that’s allowed) start to clean up your desk.

  • Throw out old files,
  • Clean up your computer,
  • Update your task lists,
  • Prepare your performance reviews,
  • Order that new work phone and
  • Pay all your outstanding invoices.
Bonus: Decorate your desk with something cheerful so you have a nice start on 3 January 2020.

28 December: Shopping Day

Don’t forget to stock up on groceries. If you’re like me, you probably have an empty fridge by now. Maybe you still have personal administrative tasks to do. My advice is to use the “Pomodoro” technique to start working on the task for 25 minutes. These days the Bahnhofstrasse isn’t as crowded as usual, so you could also go to the city and buy a new outfit. Maybe with style advice from Rowena Downing.

29 December: Wish Day

For me this will be the day where I write down everything I’m grateful for in my life and what my wishes are for 2020. Join us for “Star Wars” or pick a movie and go to KOSMOS zurich or another movie theatre you usually don’t go to. Enjoy an apéro at YAMAS Zurich, the little Greek restaurant with a flair of the meatpacking district and Greek hospitality. You can also check out those great blogs for more ideas:
girlfriend guide to zurich

30 December: Pamper Day

No matter what gender you identify with, we all have a need for a pamper day at least once a year. Book an appointment at your favourite spa and enjoy the treatment. PURE zurich is great for that. If you still feel stressed you might want to get a massage from Pascale at CHINADOC.

Afterwards a leisurely stroll on Lake Zurich to Zurichhorn, a boat trip or if it’s raining take the tram 8 to Hardturm and check out the furniture and design stores near Prime Tower. Go up to the bar prime tower and enjoy the view. Book dinner there or go home and cook for yourself.

31 December: Let Go Day

It’s time to let go. Take a flipchart size paper or a pack of post-it notes and write down everything you wish to leave in the old year. This Farewell 2019-List needs to be burned before Midnight. 
I hope you enjoyed my tips for the lonely hearts club and I look forward to meeting you
in 2020.

Happy Holidays!

Angie and Team

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