Myanmar rings in 2013 with first public New Year's Eve countdown


A Myanmar worker puts up a sign to bring in the new year ahead of Myanmar's first public New Year countdown celebration at the Myoma grounds in Yangon on December 31, 2012. Some 50,000 people are also expected to flock to the revered golden Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon for the Myanmar city's first public countdown with fireworks, seen as further evidence of opening up after decades of junta rule.


Soe Than WIN

Myanmar is ringing in 2013 with its first public New Year's Eve countdown and fireworks display, an unprecedented celebration in the former military-ruled country.

Thousands were expected to attend the celebration at a large field in Yangon, where revelers will get the chance to do what much of the world does at the end of every calendar year, reported the Associated Press. A large screen will show live countdowns in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, leading up to Myanmar's own 60-second countdown. Singers, celebrities and light shows were also planned for the public party, which would have been banned under the country's former military regime.

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According to Irrawaddy Magazine, this is the second major public entertainment event Myanmar has held, following the concert of American musician Jason Mraz on Dec. 16.

"Most other countries usually hold public New Year countdown parties. But we Burmese have no idea about the countdown, as we have never celebrated it before as a public gathering," the magazine quoted Swe Hein, one of the event organizers, as saying.

Prior to this year's celebrations, New Year's Eve was celebrated privately or inside hotels, reported the AP. The military regime had only allowed grand fireworks displays in honor of Armed Forces Day.