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'Tis The Season!

Ant saulele vel nuo mus atstodama ritas
Irgi palikusi mus greita vakarop nusileidzia.
Vel kasdien daugiaus ji mums savo spinduli slepia;
O seseliai vis ilgyn kasdien issitiesia.

Look yon, the sun again is rolling down the sky:
 Each day shows less and less of its majestic rays,
Stretches out more and more the shadows of all things,
 And in a greater haste descends beyond the hills.

-From “Seasons” (“Metai”) Kristijonas Donelaitis

And so another summer leaves us and a new winter descends. The autumn, as ever, is short lived in the Baltics, but not without plenty to celebrate. Fake meteors and hoaxes aside, this autumn promises not only colorful leaves and (most likely) snow, but also celebrations of independence, Martini (pagan harvest holiday) and the opening of Christmas markets.

This season we at City Paper are proud to give you a sneak-peak at what is hot this holiday season for gifts, and styles as well as what is new in the Baltic business world. Despite the economic downturn, the Baltics have turned over a new leaf with new reforms and even the possibility of an EU presidency.

It has been an exciting year for the region, what with the Arctic Sea ship being hijacked, Estonia moving closer to joining the Euro-zone and, not to forget, a riot-filled January. Thankfully things have calmed down here and Balts and visitors alike are getting ready for Christmas as this year, people have a bit more to celebrate and look forward to in 2010. Though the weather outside may be frightful, (and if it’s not yet, just wait a few weeks), there is still plenty to see and do outdoors. Estonia boasts the most winter ski and snowboard destinations, but Latvia and Lithuania know how to have fun in the snow as well and have many sleigh ride and ice skating activities to choose from.

Unfortunately, recently the area has not gotten the best press, either regarding economics or the historical inaccuracies exploited by the Labour party and the Tories in Britain regarding the Latvian Legion in World War II. However, things are looking up, and people are speaking out in defense of the region proving once again that this small slice of the world is still very important. The Baltic tigers may have lost their bite, but they have not lost their stripes. In fact, there is a resurgence of traditions in all parts of society.

From jewelry and fashion, to an increase in awareness abroad (due in large part to the growing expat communities throughout the EU), the Baltics are getting more than just a negative rap these days. Under Sweden’s presidency of the EU, the Baltic Sea Strategy was formed as well, promising even more environmental, economic and security advances. The Baltics in winter are glorious to behold, whether looking at the icy views of the Baltic Sea, the snow tipped birch trees or simply the happiness in people’s eyes as they rush about doing their shopping while trying not to slip and fall on the icy cobblestones.

And there is nothing quite like hot mulled wine after a cold winters day of shopping, and we’ve included the recipe for you in this issue. We at City Paper hope that you will enjoy your winter holidays in the Baltics and wish you a happy New Year!