The world, already with 8,000 million inhabitants, is preparing this Saturday to enter 2023 and leave behind 12 months marked by the war in Ukraine, by inflation and by a thrilling World Cup which exalted Lionel Messi’s Argentina.
The year 2023 begins with the great challenge of the return of the coronavirus pandemic in China and with the hope that the return to power in Brazil of center-left leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Sunday will allow deforestation in the Amazon to be halted, after the years of Jair Bolsonaro, who promoted mining activities in the largest tropical jungle on the planet.
For a good part of humanity, these days will be above all organization of mourning and funeralsfollowing the Thursday deaths of Brazilian soccer star Pelé and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died this Saturday in the Vatican.
But many hope to recover the years watered down by the pandemic and celebrate the New Year in style, despite the high cost of living and the fact that the virus, relatively forgotten in recent months, has reminded its existence with the new peak of cases in China.
Sydney is one of the first major cities to ring in 2023, reclaiming its crown as the “New Year’s Capital of the World.”
Australia has already reopened its borders and expects to receive more than a million people in Sydney Harbor to watch a show with more than 100,000 fireworks that will light up the southern summer night.
By lunchtime, hundreds of people were already starting to take sides.
“It’s been a pretty good year for us, leaving covid behind of course is great,” David Hugh-Paterson told AFP near the Sydney Opera House.
Authorities expect nearly 500 million people to follow the show on the Internet or on television.
“If the whole world joins in celebration and looks to next year with renewed optimism and joy, we will consider that we have done a good job,” said the organizer of the fireworks show, Fortunato Foti.
For some, 2022 will remain the year of the online pun Wordle, Will Smith’s slap at Chris Rock at the Oscars, the World Cup lifted by Messi or Joan Manuel Serrat’s last concert.
It also meant the farewell of Pelé and Benedict XVI, as well as the departure of Queen Elizabeth II, the Cuban singer Pablo Milanés, the Spanish writer Javier Marías and the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
war in europe
But 2022 will probably be remembered primarily for the return of war to Europe.
More than 300 days after Russian troops invaded Ukraine, some 7,000 civilians have been killed and more than 10,000 injured, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Additionally, some 16 million Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes.
Those who remained must respect a curfew between 11pm and 5am, between periodic blackouts caused by Russian bombing of power plants, in the middle of winter.
Many Ukrainians will spend New Year’s Eve praying by candlelight, but others want to party all night long.
In recent years, “people have always stayed until 3 or 4 in the morning, so staying an extra hour or two won’t be a problem,” says Tetiana Mitrofanov, a restaurant owner in Kiev.
Russia, no celebrations
In Vladimir Putin’s Russia there seems to be no desire for big celebrations.
Moscow has canceled its traditional fireworks displays after a consultation of Mayor Sergei Sobyanin to residents.
Irina Shapovalova, a 51-year-old domestic worker, admits her main wish for 2023 is “a peaceful sky above our heads.”
Russia’s state broadcaster VGTRK has promised to offer “a New Year’s atmosphere, despite the changes in the country and the world”.
But this year’s broadcast will be without its star presenter Maxim Galkin, who went into exile after denouncing the war in Ukraine. He has since been considered a “foreign agent” by the Russian authorities.
After several mid-year closures due to the pandemic, vaccines have allowed a return to a certain normality in much of the world.
However, China, where the virus was first detected, faces a new waveafter the abrupt lifting at the beginning of the month of the strong restrictions in force since 2020.
The virus spreads rapidly among a population that until now had barely been in contact with the disease and has been saturated hospitals and crematoria.
This situation has led many countries to ask anticovid test for travelers arriving from Chinafor fear of the appearance of new variants.
Lula and Latin America
In Latin America, Lula will culminate on Sunday with the opening in 2022 of a new cycle of center-left governments, with “rookies” like Gustavo Petro, in Colombia, and Gabriel Boric, in Chile, learning to manage the complexities of power.
After a turbulent end to the year marked by the dismissal of President Pedro Castillo, protests could resume in January in Peru demanding the resignation of the current government of Dina Boluarte and which caused 22 deaths and over 600 injured.
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.