What will 2012 bring?
Glittering fireworks exploded as revelers in Australia and Asia welcomed 2012 and others around the world looked forward to bidding a weary adieu to a year marred by natural disasters and economic turmoil.
In London, round 250,000 people are expected to gather to listen to Big Ben strike twelve at midnight during London’s scaled-back New Year’s celebrations. Fireworks are set off from the London Eye, the giant wheel on the south bank of the river.
Thousands of revelers are expected to descend on Scotland’s capital to attend the world-famous Hogmanay street party, where around 80,000 partygoers will welcome 2012 at the stroke of midnight, before erupting into a mass rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
Revelers in Spain will greet 2012 by eating 12 grapes in time with Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol clock, a national tradition observed by millions who stop parties to follow the chimes on television.
Some in Europe were already tamping down their hopes for a year that promises more financial pain. German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned in her New Year’s message that despite her country’s comparatively stable economic situation, next year will be more difficult than 2011.
For Japan, 2011 was the year the nation was struck by a giant tsunami and earthquake that left an entire coastline destroyed, nearly 20,000 people dead or missing and the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in meltdown.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who starts his second term on New Year’s Day, said he wants to help ensure and sustain the moves toward democracy that protesters sought in the Arab Spring.
Raymond Lo, a master of feng shui — the Chinese art of arranging objects and choosing dates to improve luck — offered hope that things might get better. He said he wasn’t surprised that 2011 was such a tumultuous year because it was associated with the natural elements of metal and wood.