Decemberistan & Default

Behind the scenes of Decemberistan, Pakistan simultaneously faced a plethora of crises.

Decemberistan & Default
Decemberistan & Default
Fatima Abbas Bokhari
January 18, 2023

As the 2022 winter season began in Pakistan, people geared up for another round of holiday festivities with friends and family. This holiday season is glamorized as the much awaited “decemberistan” or “wedding season” for the top notch Pakistanis and expats. Behind the scenes of decemberistan though, Pakistan simultaneously faced a plethora of environmental, social, and economic challenges that almost put the country at risk of default. But you know what they say, the show must go on.

Decemberistan refers to the festivities that take place in the month of December in Pakistan. This includes outdoor bonfires, house parties, and wedding related functions. Social batteries are through the roof. It is also considered a Pakistani phenomenon in major cities like Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi and prime time for the influx of expats because they get time off from work abroad. People remain in a constant state of “partying and celebrating” to say the least and host multiple wedding functions to celebrate their new beginnings. It’s the perfect time to get out there, take your mind off work, mingle and celebrate the end of the year. 

The 2022 December wedding wave specifically hit 90’s born kids. It was similar to a “wedding pandemic.” I witnessed my school friends and family members tie the knot and I attended functions everyday for 2 weeks straight. For many Pakistanis, December is the most popular month to get married. 

Needless to say there has always been an inherent desire to cater to society’s marriage trends, and funnily enough Pakistanis will continue with this despite external challenges plaguing the country’s environment and economy. “Fog? Zero visibility? Storm? -2 degree cold spell? Sab kuch choro, I still need to get married yaar.” 

There’s nothing wrong with having some fun during the holidays as long as you’re mindful of your surroundings. Some decemberistan functions however seemed to contradict and implicitly undermine the vulnerable state of the country. Some examples include the viral wedding video in which the couple had an extravagant wedding cake float from the top, and other flamboyant wedding entrances on the crane. Amidst all this, we saw extreme environmental impacts, electricity shortages, inflation, and a flour and poultry crisis as prices began soaring through the roof. 

A huge wedding cake floating mid air as it comes down from a constructed false ceiling.

Cities like Lahore and Karachi experienced prevailing colds spells, and Lahore made its way to the most polluted city on the global AQI charts. The smog hindered visibility on roads and impacted people’s health. Viral fevers and dengue cases increased. Typically people could easily mingle outside as humidity and heat calmed down, but Pakistanis saw record breaking cold temperatures compared to previous years. Traveling to and attending these outdoor functions became unbearable. Many outdoor functions were moved indoors as people’s health was at stake. Recently, Islamabad’s temperature dropped to -2 degrees celsius. To make matters worse, there was an ongoing electricity and gas shortage during the cold spells. Load Shedding increased and public places like wedding halls and restaurants were expected to shut down by 10 PM to save energy.  

The poultry and agri industries dealt with rising chicken meat costs and flour scarcity in places like Balochistan. According to Dawn News, “Prices of various flour varieties shot up to Rs 140-160 per kg, and that of live poultry reached Rs 420 per kg amid lack of any official check on sellers who are raising prices at their whims.” Videos of people fighting over bags of flour in Balochistan circulated. Politics did not take a break either with political parties being in constant flux on what to do next as musical chairs for the country’s future continued unchecked.

With all this in mind, Decemberistan 2022 consisted of both extremes. On one hand we saw lavish functions, and on the other we saw multiple crises. Some took more conscious decisions while others remained totally ignorant, but overall the country and its people put on quite a spectacle. Decemberistan was truly a wild time to be in Pakistan. 

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