Steph Deschamps / December 31, 2022
Farewell 2022: the eight billion people of the world are preparing to leave behind them a turbulent year, between the war in Ukraine, inflation and the world title of Lionel Messi, before entering fully into 2023.
For many, New Year’s Day will be an opportunity to chase away the memories of Covid, as the virus leaves the minds, without disappearing for all that.
It will also be an opportunity to untie the purse and put aside months of sobriety forced by the pandemic and record inflation around the globe.
In Australia, Sydney will be one of the first major cities to ring in 2023, reclaiming its title as the “New Year’s Eve capital of the world” after two years of closure and festivities stifled by the Omicron variant.
Australia’s borders have since reopened and more than a million people are expected to gather on Sydney Harbour to watch the launch of more than 100,000 fireworks. City officials estimate that nearly half a billion people will watch the show online or on television.
By mid-day, hundreds of people were already occupying the best spots to watch the show. “It’s been a pretty good year for us, getting rid of the Covid is great,” commented David Hugh-Paterson, 52, who was sitting outside the Sydney Opera House amidst the growing crowds protecting themselves from summer showers under umbrellas.
“If we can get everyone to join in the celebration and look forward to the coming year with renewed optimism and joy, then we’ll have succeeded,” said the fireworks organizer, Fortunato Foti.
This is in contrast to the feeling left by 2022, which saw the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Pele, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jiang Zemin and Shinzo Abe.
This year also rhymed with the “Great Resignation”, a phenomenon of mass departure of employees from their jobs after the pandemic, with a slap in the face at the Oscars ceremony and the ruin of billionaires, swept away by the crash of cryptocurrencies.
But above all, it will forever be associated with the return of war in Europe with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on a continent already battered by two world wars.
In more than 300 days, nearly 7,000 civilians have been killed and 10,000 wounded, according to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Sixteen million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes. For those who remain, daily life is punctuated by power cuts, Russian bombings and a curfew from 11pm to 5am.
Each person goes through this conflict in his or her own way: a silent prayer, a celebration, in a common spirit of resistance.
Further east, Vladimir Putin’s Russia is not in the mood for fun. Moscow cancelled its traditional fireworks shows after the city’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, asked residents how they would like to mark the passage to the new year.
“A peaceful sky over our heads” is the only wish of Muscovites like Irina Shapovalova, 51, a nursery worker.
The national broadcaster VGTRK promised “a New Year’s atmosphere, despite the changes in the country and the world”.
But this year, the show will be without the usual artists or the presenter-star Maxim Galkin, who left in exile after denouncing the war in Ukraine and is now considered an “agent of foreigners ».
Also in the east, at the far end of the continent, Covid has made a dramatic comeback in China, while vaccination is allowing the rest of the world to return to some semblance of normal life.
Beijing abruptly abandoned its “zero Covid” policy earlier this month, a reversal immediately followed by an explosion in the number of infections. Hospitals and crematoria alike may be overwhelmed, but rallies are planned everywhere for the transition to 2023.
However, Shanghai authorities have announced that no activities will take place on the city’s famous waterfront.
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