Cities smarten up for western New Year

Streets of Hanoi and other major cities in Vietnam have been decorated with colourful lights and flowers in preparation for the calendar New Year on January 1.
The Gregorian calendar, also known as Western calendar or Christian calendar, is used worldwide. As 2014 comes to and end, many parts of the world are preparing to celebrate the New Year, beginning at the stroke of midnight local time on December 31 to usher in 2015.
International television broadcasters track the succession of New Year’s Eve events, from Sydney, to Tokyo, Paris to London, where official time will register at 0000 GMT, on to New York and across the United States, South America and Canada. New Year’s Eve first strikes in the South Pacific and spreads around the world to the US state of Hawaii and outlying island states in the western Pacific, for a 24-hour celebration.
The western calendar was introduced to Vietnam by French colonial authorities. Vietnam recognises both the Western New Year and the Lunar New Year, or Tet, as public holidays.
Cities in Vietnam have been planting trees and hanging decorations for several weeks. In Hanoi, hundreds of workers spread out to clean up the streets or replant pavement flower beds on major thoroughfares.”Happy New Year” signs and boards can also be seen on major streets.
Authorities in HCM City have been lighting up the streets with illuminations of various shapes, such as flowers or the national flag, since mid December. To welcome the New Year, the city will organise sport events, including bicycle racing on Mai Chi Tho Street and boat racing on Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal. A firework show will be held on the New Year’s Eve.
Meanwhile, local people and tourists in Hoi An Town can participate in a street carnival from 4pm on December 31, lasting until 1am on January 1, to usher in the New Year. Reputable firms and restaurants will also join in the event, with many local and foreign musicians performing.