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Saturday, December 24, 2005

New Year around the World 

If you like to contact friends in other parts of the world to wish them a happy New Year, make use of this useful guide to the different time zones around the world.

Fourteen hours before London, UK, the inhabitants of Kiritimati in the Kiribati group of coral islands, will be the first people to enter the New Year. Interestingly, their main port is also called London. They are followed, 1 hour later by the citizens of Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch in New Zealand, Nuku'alofa in Tonga and the hardy souls at the scientific base on the South Pole.

Sydney, Canberra, Hobart and Melbourne (Australia) have to wait another two hours before celebrating the New Year, since along with Tasmania and the Solomon Islands, they are 11 hours ahead of London. In Australia, this is a time for a beach Barbie or Street Bash with the neighbours.

Adelaide in South Australia follows 30 minutes later and then 9 hours before London, inhabitants of Tokyo in Japan and Seoul in South Korea get to celebrate. Because families like to enjoy traditions together, many businesses and restaurants in Japan are closed for a few days during the holidays, allowing employees to be with their families.

Beijing and Shanghai (China), Taipei (Taiwan), Manila (Philippines), Singapore and Hong Kong are all 8 hours ahead of London, followed 1 hour later by Bangkok (Thailand), Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam and Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Of course, the Chinese New Year is celebrated in February but New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair with a special dinner to acknowledge the presence of the ancestors.

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are 6 hours ahead of London, India is 5.5 hours and Pakistan, 5 hours.
Afghanistan is next to ring in the New Year, 30 minutes earlier than the United Arab Emirates, Maldives, Mauritius and Oman all of which are 4 hours ahead of London and 30 minutes ahead of Iran.

Next comes Russia, the population of this huge country are spread across 11 time zones but Moscow and Saint Petersburg in Russia are 3 hours ahead of London, as is Nairobi in Kenya.

Just 2 hours ahead of London are Cairo (Egypt), Bucharest (Romania), Athens (Greece), Sofia (Bulgaria), Ankara (Turkey), Johannesburg (South Africa), Harare (Zimbabwe) and Cape Town (South Africa),

Nearly half-way around the world now and the clocks of central Western Europe, 1 hour ahead of London, strike midnight; citizens of Brussels (Belgium), Rome (Italy), Paris (France), Madrid (Spain), Geneva (Switzerland), Budapest (Hungary), Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne and Berlin (Germany), Copenhagen (Denmark), Warsaw (Poland), Vienna (Austria), Stockholm (Sweden) and Amsterdam (Netherlands) will be out on the streets welcoming the New Year with fireworks and bells. Vienna’s historic centre is transformed into a pulsating dance arena as the Pummerin of St. Stephen’s Cathedral (the second largest swinging bell in Europe) strike.
Also 1 hour ahead are Algiers in Algeria and Lagos in Nigeria.

At last, it is London's turn; Big Ben strikes, sharing the time zone with partygoers in Dublin (Ireland), Casablanca (Morocco), Lisbon (Portugal), the northerly Reykjavik (Iceland) and of course Scotland with the famous Hogmanay celebrations.

Now the other hemisphere waits. Two more hours for Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, 3 hours for Buenos Aires in Argentina and Santiago in Chile.

The Goddess of the Sea and Mother of the Waters is worshipped on New Year's Eve in Rio de Janeiro where Copacabana Beach is the main site for the party. This is becoming as big as the Mardi Gras Carnaval, with more than a million people gathering along the beach, the vast majority dressed in white, with candles and candlelit offerings which they set at the water's edge to be taken out to sea for the Goddess' pleasure. At midnight, the arrival of the New Year is announced by a massive fireworks display and then it is Samba until sunrise.

Canada doesn't see the New Year until 3.5 hours after London, when midnight strikes in Newfoundland followed 30 minutes later by Halifax.

Montreal (Canada), Washington DC and New York (U.S.A), together with Havana in Cuba are all 5 hours later than London. It is in New York that the famous ball drops in Times Square.

Then, 6 hours after London, it’s the turn of the other great American cities of Chicago, Minneapolis and St. Paul, New Orleans and Mexico's Mexico City.

Denver, Colorado is 7 hours after London, while California and Canada's Vancouver have to wait a further hour.

Nine hours after London the Alaskan's get to break open a bottle of well-chilled bubbly and in Hawaii, surfers say goodbye to the old year 10 hours after the Londoners in Trafalgar Square.

Finally, when it is 11 am on New Year's Day in London, Samoa is the last inhabited place on earth to see out the old year and welcome the new; only now do the Samoans get to say Happy New Year.

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