A child wearing a bear fur costume yawns during a parade of New Year's rituals in Comanesti, northern Romania, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. The tradition originated in pre-Christian times, when dancers in costumes or animal furs went from house to house in villages singing and dancing to ward off evil.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) (Caption amended by RNS)

Fireworks, prayers as revelers around the world ring in 2018

(AP) — The Associated Press' writers and photographers highlight how countries around the world marked New Year's Eve. 

Vatican

Bidding 2017 farewell, Pope Francis has decried wars, injustices and environmental decay which he says have "ruined" the year.

Francis on Sunday presided at a New Year's Eve prayer service in St. Peter's Basilica, a traditional occasion to say thanks in each year's last hours.

He says God gave to us a 2017 "whole and sound," but that "we humans in many ways ruined and hurt it with works of death, lies and injustices." But, he added, "gratitude prevails" thanks to those "cooperating silently for the common good."

Pope Francis prays in front of the Nativity scene after celebrating a New Year's Eve vespers Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) (Caption amended by RNS)

After the solemn basilica service, Francis strolled outside, briskly crisscrossing St. Peter's Square to shake hands and banter with well-wishers, and kiss babies held by some of the thousands of faithful who waited for hours for a glimpse of him.

The evening was warm, and Francis went without the white coat an aide carried for him. During his nearly hour-long walkabout outdoors, he stopped to admire a life-sized Nativity scene in the middle of the square.

In keeping with past practice, the pope on New Year's Day will celebrate Mass dedicated to the theme of world peace.

Australia

Fireworks lit up the sky above Sydney Harbor, highlighting the city's New Year's celebrations.

The massive fireworks display included a rainbow waterfall cascade of lights and color flowing off the harbor's bridge to celebrate recently passed legislation legalizing gay marriage in Australia.

Over a million people were expected to gather to watch the festivities. Security was tight, but officials said there was no particular alert.

Sydney officials said the event would generate some $170 million for the city and "priceless publicity." Nearly half the revelers were tourists.

Fireworks explode over Sydney Harbor during New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. (David Moir/AAP Image via AP)

United Arab Emirates

Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, has again served as the focal point of New Year's Eve celebrations — though this year authorities decided against fireworks and chose a massive LED lightshow on the structure.

That was in part due to safety in the city-state in the United Arab Emirates, which saw a massive skyscraper fire on New Year's Eve in 2015.

The display, running down the east side of the 828-meter (2,716-foot) tower, showed Arabic calligraphy, geometric designs and a portrait of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE's first president.

But a display of neighboring nations' flags didn't show Qatar's flag. The UAE joined Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in boycotting the tiny energy-rich nation in June over allegations Doha supports extremists and has too close ties to Iran. Qatar, which will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, denies supporting extremists and shares a massive offshore natural gas field with Tehran.

France

Tens of thousands of Parisians and tourists were heading to the Champs-Elysees to attend a firework show at Napoleon's Arc de Triomphe monument, at the end of the famous avenue with its lines of trees sparkling with lights.

Officials have warned the display might be canceled at the last minute due to a storm expected to hit France overnight.

New Year's Eve celebrations were placed under high security in France, which has been hit by a series of attacks by Islamic extremists in recent years.

French Interior ministry said 100,000 police officers and soldiers and 40,000 rescuers have been deployed across the country — including 2,500 on the Champs-Elysees.

A woman prays in front of lanterns to celebrate the new year at Jogyesa Buddhist temple in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) (Caption amended by RNS)

Uganda

Thousands of Ugandans were gathering at churches across the country to mark the end of 2017. The raucous events, during which some preachers are known to make dubious predictions, have become such a staple of New Year's Eve festivities that the country's longtime president, Yoweri Museveni, sometimes makes time to make an appearance at a church.

Still, many in this East African country prefer to celebrate at crowded beaches on the shores of Lake Victoria or in darkened halls listening to the music of pop stars who take turns offering crowd pleasers until midnight.

Police warned revelers not to burn car tires in celebration, citing safety reasons, to discourage a favorite activity of those, especially in the countryside, who cannot afford real fireworks.

In this Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, photo, Evalena Worthington practices her New Year's Eve descent from the top of a tall sailing vessel's mast, in Key West, Fla. The lowering of the pirate wench is a Key West tradition. (Rob O'Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP) (Caption amended by RNS)

Russia

As Russians count down the last moments before 2018 ticks over into each of the country's 11 time zones, President Vladimir Putin is calling on them to be considerate and conciliatory with each other in the new year.

"Say the most cherished words to each other, forgive mistakes and resentment, admit love, warm up with care and attention," Putin says in a televised message broadcast on Sunday just before midnight. "Let the trust and mutual understanding always accompany us," he was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies after his statement aired in Kamchatka, the easternmost time zone.

Moscow is preparing for fireworks and outdoor gatherings, despite weather that's less than festive. Usually festooned with snow at New Year's Eve, the Russian capital this year is slogging through a long spell of intermittent rain and constant gray skies.

Japan

Many Japanese celebrated the arrival of the Year of the Dog in the traditional way of praying for peace and good fortune at neighborhood Shinto shrines, and eating New Year's food such as noodles, shrimp and sweet black beans.

Barbecued beef and octopus dumpling stalls were out at Tokyo's Zojoji Temple, where people take turns striking the giant bell 108 times at midnight, an annual practice repeated at other Buddhist temples throughout Japan.

North Korea's nuclear and missile programs cast a shadow over Japan's hopes for peace, said 33-year-old cab driver Masaru Eguchi, who was ready to be busy all night shuttling shrine visitors.

"The world situation has grown so complex," Eguchi said, adding that he also worried about possible terrorism targeting Japan. "I feel this very abstracted sense of uncertainty, although I really have no idea what might happen.

A man keeps a puppy warm in his jacket while watching a parade of New Year's traditions in Comanesti, northern Romania, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) (Caption amended by RNS)

Romania

Romanians prepared to usher in a new year in which the focus is expected to be an anti-corruption fight as the government seeks to push through legislation that critics say will make it harder to punish high-level graft.

Television stations broadcast live from supermarkets full of last-minute shoppers, while beauty salons reported full bookings as revelers geared up for traditional celebrations of copious meals that can run to hundreds of euros (dollars).

Others meditated and prayed at Orthodox churches and monasteries. In rural eastern Romania, villagers danced traditional pantomime-like jigs to welcome the new year, wrapping themselves in bear furs or dressing as horses.

In his New Year message, President Klaus Iohannis praised Romanians who staged the largest protests since the end of communism.

Las Vegas

Tens of thousands of revelers will ring in the new year in Las Vegas under the close eye of law enforcement just three months after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Tourism officials expect about 330,000 people to come to Las Vegas for the festivities, which are anchored by a roughly eight-minute fireworks display at the top of seven casino-hotels.

Acts including Bruno Mars, Britney Spears, Celine Dion and the Foo Fighters will keep partiers entertained before and after midnight at properties across Sin City.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department will have every officer working Sunday, while the Nevada National Guard is activating about 350 soldiers and airmen.

The federal government also is sending dozens of personnel to assist with intelligence and other efforts.