Fireworks over the London Eye, in central London
Fireworks over the London Eye, in central London

People around the world ushered in the New Year 2012 with prayers, balloons and fireworks. They rejoiced the end of 2011 by holding midnight parties at select disco clubs and pubs.

Samoa (small group of islands in Oceania located in the South Pacific Ocean) and Tokelau (an independent region of New Zealand) were the first countries to celebrate the New Year. At the stroke of midnight on Dec. 29, the two Pacific island nations skipped Dec. 30 entirely in a bid to fast-forward to Dec. 31.

In Sydney, Australia, people rejoiced the New Year with a multi-million dollar fireworks display spanning across 15 minutes, as the clock struck midnight (1:00 am GMT).

In Japan, thousands of people took to the act of releasing hand-written New Year wishes inscribed on balloons and let them soar high in front of the Tokyo tower. The helium balloons were released at the stroke of midnight carrying the people hopes and wishes for 2012.

There were prayers wishing for a better year in the aftermath of earthquakes and tsunami that completely devastated the north-east of Japan in 2011.

Giant illuminated screens displaying the countdown timer for New Year drew large sections of crowd in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who takes over his second stint on Sunday, hoped for a peaceful and democratic country.

Watch the video of celebrations: