The euro finally became legal tender as midnight struck across the eurozone. Citizens celebrated new year with the arrival of the euro notes and coins. FT correspondents were among them. What were their impressions?
Christopher Brown-Humes, in Helsinki, was an hour ahead of the game.
Sauli Niinisto¨, the Finnish finance minister, spent his first euros on a cup of coffee - costing E1 - on the stroke of midnight in a Helsinki casino.
Minutes later, he telephoned his Greek counterpart Nikos Christodoulakis to see how the historic shift was going in Europe's south-eastern corner, which is also one hour ahead of most European countries.
Hundreds of Finns braved the cold to queue up to exchange markka for euros at the Bank of Finland, which opened its doors between midnight and 1.30 am. The bank laid on hot drinks and gingerbread biscuits with the euro symbol to keep those waiting warm. And, for anyone who had failed to get the message, there was a bowl full of old markka notes now shredded into confetti, in the main bank hall.
Jussi Uusivuori who was first in the queue with his 10-year old son Mikael, said: "Many Finns feel this finally puts them in the heartland of Europe."
John Murray Brown in Dublin, witnessed euro-enthusiasm at the Irish central bank - or was it the freebies on offer?
In Dublin, the Irish capital, long queues formed outside the central bank, the only bank open on Tuesday, attracted by the free champagne, whiskey and tea on offer to those exchanging punts for euros.
Irish officials estimate 85 per cent of the advance supply of notes - the so-called frontloading - was completed before Tuesday’s official launch, the best performance of any of the participating countries.
Peter Norman in Brussels, triggered a run on one ATM
At half past midnight, Brussels time, I got my first euro notes from an ATM at a branch of KBC Bank, about 200 metres from the site of Brussels extravagant changeover celebrations.
There was no one else using the machine and no technical hitch. A small group of people outside the bank seemed unaware of the ATM just inside the bank building and were looking at the last fireworks and the crowds going home.
I could have withdrawn as few as E20. I opted for E120 and received six new light blue E20 notes in place of the BF1,000 or BF500 previously supplied.
By this time, some of those outside had noticed what I was doing. They asked if the notes were euro and, suddenly showing interest, came inside the porch. Ten minutes later it was packed and the ATM was doing a roaring trade.
Daniel Dombey, elsewhere in Brussels, met more ambivalent eurozoners
In the end, it was nearly impossible to say exactly when Europe's biggest logistical operation since the war took effect.
At five minutes to midnight, a Brussels all-night corner shop technically broke the law when it accepted a E0.62 payment for a bar of chocolate ahead of the official midnight introduction of the new euro notes and coins. Just down the road a deserted KBC Bank ATM - which can store Belgian francs and euros at the same time - dispensed euros at 00.07.
Other banks were not so ready and on Avenue Louise, one of the city's main thoroughfares, several machines were out of order.
It was bad news for New Year revellers: "We're not very interested in the euro. We're just looking for money to buy drinks," explained Christoph, a 20-something youth disappointed by an out-of-order machine. "It's certainly not worth walking across town to get some euros."
Gordon Cramb in Amsterdam, felt ripped off barely an hour after midnight
The euro is only hours old, and already I feel ripped off.
An ABN Amro cash machine at the Rembrandtplein, one of Amsterdam's main nightlife locations, accepted my card and told me it was dispensing, at my request, E50. The first few millimetres of an orange-brown note emerged from the slot, then disappeared back inside.
Until the bank reopens for normal business on January 2, I have no way of knowing whether my account has been debited with the amount. But if similar problems develop elsewhere at ATMs, the euro's birth will not have been painless.
The Dutch believed they were better prepared for its arrival than any of the other eurozone countries. They had planned more, and spent more. But as revellers emerged from the discotheques, where they had still been spending guilders, and went to a cash machine to get their hands on the new notes, many were disappointed.
At an ING outlet on the Damrak, the main street linking Amsterdam's central station with the royal palace, a queue of about 20 formed early on Tuesday at the one out of three machines in service. That was one more than at the ABN Amro office a block further on, where all four were out of commission.
But there was evidence that the process was working. A few minutes before my perplexing experience at the Rembrandtplein, I collected a batch of notes from a machine of Fortis at the nearby flower market, although Belgian customers of the Belgo-Dutch financial group will have to wait until Wednesday to get their euros from the wall.
Nonetheless, bank cash machines in the Netherlands are in for a busy day. According to one survey, a quarter of the population plans to withdraw euro notes on Tuesday. I hope they have better luck than I did.
The euro arrives across Europe - interactive map.