Athens ushers in the New Year with program from Mt. Lycabettus, fireworks

Fireworks lit up the skies at the turn of the year on January 1, 2022 in Athens and throughout Greece broadcast live, as coronavirus restrictions forced the cancellation of many city-organized celebrations.

The city of Athens broadcast a holiday program on national broadcaster ERT 15′ before the end of the year, followed by a fireworks display by the city. The main event was held on Mt. Lycabettus, the landmark hill in Athens after a program filmed outdoors of Greek pop star Sakis Rouvas accompanied by a 17-member orchestra playing songs from the world over. Well-known songs and holiday melodies were performed in original jazz versions to celebrate the New Year.

In his message from the hill, Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis said that the outgoing year was another difficult one throughout the world, “with many and painful losses, insecurity and fear. But life is greater than its sorrows, and this New Year marks a new beginning.”

New Year’s messages struck a common chord of optimism and wishes that the pandemic ends soon, with reminders of keeping health safety measures and getting vaccinated.

As President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou said, “Mass vaccination is the most effective weapon against the virus. Observing health measures is a responsibility of the state but of ours as well – it relates to our social and individual ethics, focused on respecting our neighbors and the common good.”

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned that “the coming weeks will bring ups and downs,” but expressed the certainty that Greece has the power to overcome them and lead the country to calmer waters, “as long as we remain united, mature and careful.”

In his message, main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras called 2022 a year of great change that must and can come, “a year of a new start for our lives, for society, and for Greece.”

Newly elected leader of PASOK-Movement for Change (KINAL) Nikos Androulakis expressed the hope that in 2022 “humanity becomes better prepared to respond to very great challenges with solidarity and justice.”

“A good and fighter-ready year, with health and strength,” to all, workers, the unemployed, hard-working, self-employed and farmers, young people, women of working-class families, struggling scientists and artists, migrants and refugees, was the wish expressed for the New Year by the Communist Party of Greece’s (KKE) Central Committee.

Calling for putting aside mistakes of 2021, Greek Solution leader Kyriakos Velopoulos said “let us each improve his or her own, individual personality, to move ahead together as Greeks, Christians, in Orthodoxy, in solidarity of one with the other.” Together, he said, “we Greeks can do better things – in 2022, we Greeks must do our best.”

MeRA25 Secretary Yanis Varoufakis focused on change, on “strengthening our believe inside us that everything can be done differently – as long, of course, as we don’t do the same, and as long as we assume the responsibility of breaking with a system that constantly covers up its economic and ethical failure.” This is a system that presents itself as a solution when it creates them itself, he stressed, and takes advantage of them in order to benefit the few to the detriment of the many.