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Christmas Time in Malta: Tradition, Celebration, and Festivities

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Nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean, Malta is a picturesque archipelago known for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. When the festive season arrives, the islands come alive with a unique blend of tradition and modern celebration. In this article, we will explore how the Maltese traditionally celebrated Christmas, how these traditions have evolved over time, and the delightful activities that both locals and tourists can enjoy during this magical season.

Traditional Maltese Christmas Celebrations

As a tourist in Malta, one of the first things you will notice is how the island respects and upholds many of its traditions. From the stunning village feasts during the summer months, to its traditional holidays, Malta is a place steeped in tradition.

Christmas time in Malta is no different. With its deep-rooted Catholic heritage, the Christmas season kicks off with Advent, a period of anticipation and preparation for the birth of Jesus. Many Maltese households still adhere to the age-old tradition of setting up a nativity scene, locally known as “presepju,” depicting the Holy Family, shepherds, and the Magi. When strolling through the heart of many villages, you will see the “presepju” proudly displayed in household windows.

Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve is a sacred tradition for Maltese families. The beautifully adorned churches resonate with hymns and prayers, creating a serene atmosphere that brings communities together. After the Mass, families gather for a festive meal, or in more recent years, a Christmas Breakfast in the early hours of Christmas Day. Restaurants, and hotels such as the Phoenicia Malta, offer this early Christmas Breakfast which typically starts after midnight mass ends into the early hours.

Throughout the Christmas season, Maltese towns and villages host processions, bringing to life the biblical scenes of the Nativity. Locals, dressed in traditional costumes, parade through the streets, re-enacting the story of the birth of Jesus. These processions not only showcase religious fervour but also provide a colourful spectacle for both residents and visitors.

chrismas procession malta

Evolution of Christmas Celebrations in Malta

While the religious customs remain an integral part of Christmas in Malta, the celebrations have evolved over the years, embracing a more secular and globalised approach. Today, you’ll find Maltese families incorporating modern Christmas traditions, such as decorating Christmas trees, exchanging gifts, and enjoying festive meals with a blend of local and international flavours.

The Maltese Islands, with their mild winter climate, offer a unique setting for outdoor celebrations. The streets are adorned with twinkling lights, and the scent of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts wafts through the air. In fact, the Phoenicia Malta hosts live-chestnut roasting with mulled wine on the steps of the hotel every year. Shopping districts and town squares transform into festive markets, where locals and tourists alike can shop for handmade crafts, traditional sweets, and unique Christmas gifts. Christmas in Valletta, the island’s capital, is a wonderful place to explore. Amidst a vibrant array of shops, restaurants, cosy cafes, and elegant churches, the enchanting glow of Valletta’s Christmas lights transform the capital into a festive haven.

imbuljuta christmas malta

Christmas Activities for Locals and Tourists

Village Festivities

Many Christmas events in Malta are organised by individual towns and villages, They often feature live music, dance performances, and a variety of stalls selling local products. These festivities provide a fantastic opportunity for both locals and visitors to immerse themselves in the community spirit and experience Maltese hospitality at its best. In 2019, Valletta hosted its first Christmas Village, Fairyland, which has become more popular with every Christmas that passes. Visitors can enjoy traditional Christmas market food and drink, a ferris wheel, various rides and more. In Rabat, the Natalis Notabilis Christmas Market has also become a staple stop during the festive season.

Festive Food and Drink

The Maltese have a sweet tooth, and Christmas is the perfect time to indulge. Traditional sweets like “Qaghaq tal-Ghasel” (honey rings), “Imbuljuta tal-Qastan” (traditional chestnut drink with cocoa) and “Biskuttini tar-Rahal” (village biscuits) are must-try treats during the season. Additionally, local wineries and bars offer special Christmas-themed beverages, making it a joyous time for those who appreciate the culinary delights Malta has to offer.

Concerts and Performances

Malta boasts a strong and creative entertainment scene which comes alive during the Christmas period. From classical concerts in historic churches to lively street performances, Malta’s Christmas calendar is filled with cultural events. We shall be hosting the Amadeus Choir at Palm Court lounge this Christmas.

Outdoor Activities

Take advantage of Malta’s mild winter climate by participating in outdoor activities. Whether it’s a coastal walk, a boat tour to explore the scenic bays, or a hike through the countryside, the islands offer a picturesque backdrop for those seeking an active and refreshing Christmas break in Malta.  A popular attraction for families is the Illuminated Trail at Verdala Palace. As soon as you enter, you and your family will marvel at the stunning illuminated lanterns that adorn each side of the pathway. Discover the mesmerising Mythical Tree, venture into the otherworldly Flower Land, meander through the enchanting Fantasy Garden, the Illuminated Trail is a must-do for those with small children.

With a harmonious blend of tradition and modern celebration, Christmas in Malta reflects the warmth and diversity of Maltese culture. Whether you are captivated by the solemnity of religious customs or drawn to the vibrant atmosphere of festive markets and events, Malta offers a Christmas experience that is both unique and unforgettable. Embrace the season with open arms, savour the delectable flavours, and immerse yourself in the joyous celebrations that make Christmas in Malta a truly magical time.

The Phoenicia Malta is conveniently located just a few steps away from Valletta’s City Gate. With Fairyland – Santa’s City just outside the hotel, and the main bus terminus just a short walk away, you can explore the magic of Malta with ease.

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