News New Years Eve in Asia, 2022 in Europe
Dec 31 (Reuters) – Europe and Asia bid farewell to 2022 amid plans for a fireworks display in Paris, hopes for an end to war in Kyiv and a return to post-COVID normalcy in Australia and China.
For many, the year has been highlighted by conflict in Ukraine, economic stress and the effects of global warming. But the year also saw dramatic World Cup football, rapid technological change and efforts to tackle climate challenges.
For Ukraine, the fighting that began when Russia invaded in February appears to show no signs of ending. On Saturday alone, Russia fired more than 20 cruise missiles and explosions were reported across the country, Ukrainian officials said.
A nationwide curfew remains in place, preventing many public spaces from celebrating the start of 2023. Several local governors posted messages on social media warning residents not to break restrictions on New Year’s Eve.
In Kyiv, however, as midnight approached, people gathered near the Christmas tree in the middle of the city.
“We’re not giving up. They can’t ruin our celebration,” said Yaryna, 36, who celebrated with her husband, wrapped in tinsel and colored lights.
Oksana Mozorenko, 35, said her family had tried to celebrate Christmas and make it “a real holiday,” but added: “I really want this year to be over.”
In a video message to celebrate the New Year, Time magazine’s 2022 Person of the Year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “I want to wish all of us one thing – victory.”
In his New Year’s address, Russian President Vladimir Putin specifically called on the Russian people to support his troops fighting in Ukraine.
Celebrations in Moscow were quiet, without the usual fireworks over Red Square.
“People should not pretend that nothing happened — our people are dying (in Ukraine),” said Yelena Popova, 68. “Holidays are being celebrated, but there must be limits.” Many Muscovites They said they wanted peace by 2023.
Paris will host its first New Year’s fireworks display since 2019, with half a million people expected to gather on the Champs-Elysées.
Like many places, the Czech capital Prague is financially strapped, so no fireworks display was held.
“It seemed inappropriate to have a celebration,” said city hall spokesman Witt Hoffmann, noting “the financial situation of many Prague families” and the city’s need to save money.
Heavy rain and high winds meant that fireworks displays in major Dutch cities were canceled.
But several European cities are experiencing record warmth for this time of year. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute said it was the warmest New Year’s Eve on record, with temperatures reaching 17.7 degrees Celsius (63.9 degrees Fahrenheit) in central Prague, which dates back 247 years.
It was also the warmest New Year’s Eve on record in France, official weather forecaster Meteo France said.
In Croatia, dozens of cities, including the capital Zagreb, canceled fireworks displays as pet lovers warned of their damaging effects and called for more environmentally conscious celebrations.
The Adriatic town of Rovinj plans to replace fireworks with a laser show, while Zagreb is setting up confetti, visuals and music.
“Sydney is back”
Earlier, Australia kicked off New Year’s Eve celebrations with its first unlimited New Year’s Eve after two years of COVID disruption.
Sydney ushers in the New Year with a typical dazzling fireworks display, which for the first time includes a rainbow waterfall over the Harbor Bridge.
“This New Year’s Eve, we say Sydney is back as we kick off the celebrations around the world and welcome the new year with a bang,” the city’s mayor, Clover Moore, said.
Pandemic-era restrictions on celebrations were lifted this year after Australia, like many countries around the world, reopened its borders and lifted social distancing restrictions.
In China, strict COVID restrictions were not lifted until December as the government rolled back its “zero COVID” policy, a shift that sent infection rates soaring, meaning some were in no mood to celebrate.
“This virus should disappear, unbelievable, I can’t even find a healthy friend this year to go out with me to celebrate the new year,” wrote a social media user in eastern Shandong province.
But in Wuhan, where the pandemic began three years ago, tens of thousands of people gathered to enjoy life despite heavy security.
Barricades were erected and hundreds of police officers stood guard. Officials removed people from at least one popular New Year’s Eve gathering point and used a bullhorn to play a message on loop advising people not to gather. But the throng of revelers didn’t notice.
In Shanghai, many flocked to the historic Bund riverside walkway.
“We all came to Shanghai from Chengdu to celebrate,” said Da Dai, a 28-year-old digital media executive, who was visiting with two friends. “We’ve had COVID so feel safe to enjoy life now.”
In Hong Kong, days after restrictions on group gatherings were lifted, thousands of people rallied near the city’s Victoria Harbour, counting down to midnight. Lights stream from some of the largest Portside buildings.
This is the city’s largest New Year’s Eve celebration in several years. The event was canceled in 2019 due to recurring violent social unrest, then scaled back in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
The Malaysian government has canceled a New Year’s countdown and fireworks event at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur after nationwide floods this month displaced tens of thousands and landslides killed 31 people.
Celebrations at the Petronas Twin Towers in the capital were scaled back, with no shows or fireworks.
Reuters 2022 Year in Review
Reporting by Reuters bureaus around the world; Writing by Neil Fullick, Frances Kerry and Rosalba O’Brien; Editing by Hugh Lawson, David Holmes and Daniel Wallis
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