How We Celebrate Christmas In Malta


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Christmas in Malta - for Comenius Project

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How We Celebrate Christmas In Malta

  1. 1. How we celebrate Christmas in Malta By: Kirsty Borg, year 5.2, St.Paul’s Bay Primary School, Malta In Malta, the word for Christmas is ‘Il- Milied’. We start preparing for Christmas from the end of November. During Christmas time in Malta, cribs, called ‘presepji’ in Maltese, are built almost everywhere and by everyone. These are then decorated with small statues called 'pasturi'. The 'pasturi' represent Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, angels, villagers and animals such as cows, sheep and donkeys. On Christmas Eve, churches in Malta are decorated with lights and nativity cribs. The figure of baby Jesus is placed on the main altar at midnight on Christmas night. Modern cribs are now often mechanical and the figures in them can even move! These days, the ‘pasturi’ are also often made of plastic. In 1921 a Maltese priest called 1
  2. 2. George Preca organized a Christmas Eve procession with a statue of the Infant Jesus being carried at the front. The idea became very popular with people of all ages and this is how the very special Maltese traditional Christmas procession started. This is still very popular even today and form an important part of the Christmas Eve celebrations. Like everywhere else, every home in Malta has its own Christmas tree which is decorated with light bulbs, tinsel and other items of decorations. Inside every house one can see Christmas wreaths, candles and all sorts of other decorations. The 'Presepju' with 'pasturi' can also be found in Maltese houses during Christmas. Large statues of the baby Jesus are sometimes put behind windows or in balconies and surrounded by bright Christmas lights. It is a splendid sight! 2
  3. 3. It is traditional to sow wheat, grain and canary seed, and called 'gulbiena', on cotton buds in dark corners in the house. These are sown five weeks before Christmas. After a while, white grass-like shoots sprout from the seeds. These are then used to decorate the crib or the statue of Baby Jesus. On Christmas Eve, a procession with the Baby Jesus is held. This is followed by the Midnight mass which is attended by most of the Maltese people, who are Catholics. The mass begins with choirs singing carols in Maltese. An important part of the mass is the telling of a story of the nativity by a young boy or girl, instead of the priest. After Mass, people greet each other with ‘Il-Milied It-Tajjeb’ which means Merry Christmas. Christmas Day in Malta is a time to celebrate with family. It is an occasion for 3
  4. 4. families to get together. All the family members meet in one house for lunch and stay there till the evening. Christmas lunch in Malta traditionally consists of 'dundjan’ turkey, ‘qaghaq tal-ghasel’ honey rings and pudina tal-Milied’ Christmas pudding. Christmas in Malta is so much fun! Traditional Christmas sweets, the ‘qaghaq tal-ghasel’ honey rings. 4
  5. 5. The statue of Baby Jesus in a Maltese church, surrounded with the grass-like ‘gulbiena’ A Street in Valletta, the capital city of Malta, decorated for Christmas. 5
  6. 6. The Christmas Eve procession with the statue of Baby Jesus 6