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Similarities between Chinese New Year and Eid Festival in Pakistan

By Zamir Ahmed Awan (People's Daily Online)    10:11, January 21, 2020

China will be celebrating “Chinese New Year”, generally known as “Spring Festival”, on 25 January 2020. It is based on the lunar calendar and usually falls between 21 January and 20 February every year. It is one of the most important and biggest festivals in traditional Chinese culture, and one of the longest holidays, lasting up to 7 days.

Chinese New year is celebrated in China as well as neighboring countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea, and all around the world where there are Chinese communities.

In Pakistan, there are up to 90,000 Chinese who have lived there for various periods of time. They will also be celebrating the festival in its full cultural and traditional spirit.

Many similarities exist between Chinese New Year and Pakistan’s traditional “Eid” Festival. Both are based on the lunar calendar and are one of the most important and biggest festivals in their societies. Both are family-centric festivals, which everyone wants to spend with their loved ones. Many wish to travel home for reunions with elderly family members, even if this means travelling long distances. Every year, both countries witness large migrations during the festival. People may face difficulties booking tickets for trains, flights, or long-distance buses, and have to battle through heavy traffic, but still want to travel back to their hometowns.

In China, the most exciting part of the festival is Chinese New Year’s Eve, when people stay up late at night and set off fireworks. In Pakistan, people try to finish their shopping for “Eid” and stay up late at night, busying themselves with eating and shopping and other fun things.

Another thing the two festivals have in common is giving cash envelopes. In China, it is very common for older people to put money in red envelopes and give to youngsters. In Pakistan, this practice is called “Eidi”, and kids spend this money however they want.

Family meals are another common feature, where the whole family enjoys a big meal specially prepared for the festival which usually contains very rich and traditional food. Even poor families also try to cook the best food on this occasion. The family dinner is a sign of unity and love between family members. It is also a symbol of respect for the elderly and affection for young people.

In both cultures, it is an opportunity to visit and spend time with relatives and friends. People are usually busy trying to make a living and don’t have the chance to spend time with other family members, but the festival gives them a chance to strengthen family bonds and friendships. This tradition is again common in both cultures.

Those who have passed away are also remembered during this period, and the festival is used to visit the graves of ancestors. In both cultures, ancestors receive a lot of respect, and they are not ignored on such an important occasion.

Chinese people finish cleaning and decorating their houses ahead of the festival. Before the Eid festival in Pakistan, people also clean everything completely, buy new furniture and decorate their homes.

New clothes are common features of both cultures. Women and children in particular use new clothes and new jewelry to mark the festival.

There is also a common emerging trend among the youth of the two cultures, in which they use the long holidays to travel for picnics, honeymoons and pleasure trips. Based on our cultural strong bonds, the China-Pakistan friendship is growing in all dimensions, and strong collaboration and cooperation continues to exist. 

The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to People's Daily Online.

Zamir Ahmed Awan is a senior fellow with the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and a sinologist at the National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan. E-mail: [email protected]

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