The First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones said:
"Families across Wales will be making their final preparations for Christmas, getting ready to spend some quality time together.
"2012 has been remarkable and memorable, a true mix of emotions that will remain with us for many years to come. On the sporting field we began with the fabulous Wales Grand Slam victory. It was a moment of great pride when I was able to formally present the squad with the Six Nations trophy in front of the Senedd.
"Our great year of sport continued with the Olympics and Paralympics. Our Welsh competitors were inspirational and their successes lifted the entire nation.
"Away from sport, we have experienced tragedy. The terrible events in Machynlleth with the disappearance of April Jones, and the recent flooding in North Wales hit us hard.
"The way our communities responded to these tragic events was remarkable. People from across the country came together to help, to offer support. This sense of solidarity in adversity is part of being Welsh, something perhaps we take for granted, but something which we will forever cherish.
"The events in Machynlleth and North Wales also shone a light on the work of the emergency services, for whom Christmas will not be a holiday. Our police forces, health workers, fire service and countless voluntary and third sector organisations work tirelessly all year round for the benefit of us all.
"This is also a time to remember those in the armed forces, many serving overseas. They serve to defend us and that is why we have introduced a package of support for our Armed Forces community to show we appreciate what they do.
"Over the last year we have seen the National Assembly pass its first law using its new powers, the latest step on our constitutional journey.
"Despite the pressures on our budget, we are providing funding for 500 Community Support Officers, many of which are already working in communities across Wales.
"We are continuing to invest in, and modernise our NHS by providing more care closer to home and developing specialist centres of excellence, which provide better results for patients. We are improving access to GP services for working people by ensuring appointments are available at times which are convenient to them.
"We still live in uncertain economic times. Wales, as part of the European and global economy, has not been immune from these difficulties. The Welsh Government will continue to work hard to support jobs, growth and tackle poverty, whether it is helping businesses through the creation of new Enterprise Zones or through our Business Start-up programme, which has already created thousands of new enterprises and jobs throughout Wales; helping young people find employment through our flagship Jobs Growth Wales scheme; or ensuring Wales is equipped to benefit from next generation broadband.
"Despite the constraints on our finances, we are committed to investing in infrastructure projects to allow us to continue to provide the best schools, hospitals and roads, projects that will provide a much needed boost to our construction industry.
"Wales is a highly creative and innovative country and is becoming recognised as a leader in a number of growth sectors, from life sciences to the creative industries. I will personally keep promoting this innovation to Europe and the world and turn this creativity into new jobs and businesses.
"Make no mistake that there are many challenges ahead, but everything we do is aimed at supporting the people of Wales, improving public services and delivering lasting change.
"I would like to wish you and your families a very merry and peaceful Christmas."