Christmas in Malta
Malta’s Christmas traditions have warmed their way into many hearts over the years. Christmas, many say, is not Christmas without a visit to Malta to experience the traditions passed through the ages and practiced from generation to generation. If you’re planning on a Malta holiday, one of the fun Christmas traditions throughout Malta and its islands is the building of cribs in the nativity scene (“Presepju” in Maltese) and none is more intimate than Siggiewi’s tiny church in the main square which opens specially for this local celebration. Of course, many of these cribs can be seen from Sliema to Xewkija, from village to village, farmhouse to farmhouse and school to school throughout the land. Everyone from Government technocrats to humble farmers are involved, and make the most of the wonderful tradition that has captured the hearts of so many visitors over the years. In fact, many families decorate their windows with little Christmas displays which include small statues of baby Jesus in a crib, elaborate cribs and sometimes impressive light decorations and arrangements that include beautiful red poinsettia, the 'Christmas Eve' flower.
In Ballutta, between Sliema and St. Julians, many artists and amateur artists build a massive crib and then open their doors to allow the public to visit.
The most popular crib in Malta is the one made by ‘Museo’ members who were the first to make a mechanical crib and nativity scene. Unlike the Christmas traditions around the world, this particular Maltese Christmas tradition is quite unique and moving. Mixed with reenactments, an endless round of parties, family celebrations with enormous meals, and beautiful ecclesiastical performances such as those at St. Paul’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta, its a heady mix. A visit to the pantomime at the Manoel Theatre is a must.
A traditional Christmas dessert is the 'Qaghaq ta’ l-Ghasel', which means honey rings. This is something that you have to try if you’re spending Christmas in Malta. Truly yummy! The weather is usually sunny, Malta enjoys over 300 days a year of sunshine, so don’t expect to see snow, it has never snowed in Malta and the site of Santa Claus walking in bright sunshine in snaking honey-coloured streets can be a little surreal. Christmas shopping followed by sunbathing is not unheard of.
The culmination of all the religious activities comes during a long Christmas Eve, when practically every family goes to the Midnight Mass Service in their village church, followed by an enormous celebration breakfast in a local eatery or hotel until as late as 6:00am before heading off home to cook the mighty Christmas Lunch!
|The Maltese are incredibly respectful of Christmas traditions and Republic Street in Valletta is always lit with exceptional Christmas lights accompanied by prolific carol singing. Huge street parties are held and everything is in the name of what the true Christmas stands for. Not only are Malta’s Christmas traditions enticing, the islands have such an relaxed way of life that you may find yourself invited on the spur of the moment to join a Maltese family at their table during the Christmas festivities.
Christmas Day in Malta is largely a family affair and is a special occasion for families to reunite. It’s part of the Maltese culture and tradition for all extended members of the family to assemble in one house for Christmas lunch and pretty much spend the whole day together, eating, drinking and celebrating Christmas, the Maltese way – this means feasting and putting away enough food for an army platoon! At this time of the year flights are cheap and plentiful which puts a little sprig of holly on the cake!
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