Event celebrated at midnight on 1 January 2000 by the majority of the world's population. Although the official start of the new millennium, according to the Greenwich Observatory and the US Naval Observatory, is 1 January 2001, ‘millennium fever’ hit many Western countries in 1999, especially in the UK where a series of millennium grants, funded by National Lottery money and administered by the Millennium Commission, were awarded to people to help them celebrate the occasion.
It is arguable that Britain feels a particular affinity with the celebration because the UK is the home of the Greenwich Observatory, London, where the Greenwich meridian is measured from. Events occurring in the UK in 1999 included the building of the controversial government-sponsored Millennium Dome, as well as privately funded events such as the construction of the London Eye, sponsored by British Airways, in Jubilee Gardens, Westminster, London. Other countries also planned events for the celebration – over fifty new churches were planned and built in Rome, Italy, and in France the Pompidou Centre, Paris, was re-opened on 1 January 2000, after a two-year, £55 million/$88 million renovation.
Although the celebration was mainly approached with great excitement, the event also caused anticipation and fear. Many worried about the effects on technological devices of the Millennium Bug, including the US government which operated a 24-hour information centre monitoring computer problems for a week beginning 31 December 1999. This could be seen as part of a larger concern about the progress of technology in the last century, and the way everyday life has become reliant upon it. The place of religion in a secular society was also raised again, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, arguing in 1998 that the millennium was an opportunity to help the disadvantaged people of the world, and that the church should be at the heart of the millennial celebrations. The mood of change at the beginning of the new millennium was used by the campaign for world debt relief, Jubilee 2000, and was reported to be a factor in the British government's decision to cancel the debt owed to Britain by the world's heavily indebted poor countries.
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