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
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
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
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!
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 Day in Malta is a time to
celebrate with family. It is an occasion for
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.
The statue of Baby Jesus in a Maltese
church, surrounded with the grass-like
A Street in Valletta, the capital city of
Malta, decorated for Christmas.
The Christmas Eve procession with the
statue of Baby Jesus