Christmas festivities in Malta and Gozo bring back warm memories for our writer, and provide opportunities for unforgettable experiences for visitors. There’s much to see and do this holiday season so start planning!
To be quite honest, during the lengthy years of my life the word “Christmas” encapsulated everything connected to the nativity and disregarded all the other attachments that have crept in over the years. When I was a boy, Christmas signified a time of fervent prayer, family gatherings, and a boisterous Christmas Day lunch. I avidly counted all the Christmas cards we received and who they were from, and each year compared them to the previous year.
Naturally, as a child, Christmas was also all about the anticipation of receiving presents. Without doubt, my favourite gifts were balls for playing football and motor vehicle toys. One Christmas, my father bought me a small mobile pedal vehicle, coloured blue, which I could ride and pretend I was driving a real car. During another Christmas I received a small table-model car, which my brother Edward tried to steal from me. As much as I loved these presents, extraordinarily, I have never driven a car and never obtained a driving licence!
Growing up in Malta, Midnight Mass was a treasured Christmas event for our family, and my memories are of all the colour and church ceremonies, and the romantic implications that Jesus Christ was born in a stable surrounded by his loving parents and a variety of domestic animals.
But the Christmas Day lunch memories top them all. Our dining table was always surrounded by close family. My father was a great amateur chef (he came from a cooking family), and prepared amazing displays of roast turkey or chicken with all the trimmings, rounded off by delicious Christmas puddings that were savoured over the following days with home-made custard.
My family relocated to England when I was seven years old, and I was introduced to carol singing. I never took to it. I was a Mediterranean boy in the outside depths of cold British winters! Brrrrrrrr ! No thanks! Now back in Malta, I can say the world and humanity have changed and so too has Christmas. Yes, it is still a time of entertainment and religious solemnity, but it has also become a season festooned with a series of big and bright events.
Some, like the beautiful Christmas Cribs and Midnight Mass still honour the religious significance of Christmas, but others understand that people have new outlooks and concepts of celebrating, have more money and free time to spend, and are in search of the unusual to satisfy their modern tastes. They have come to the right place.
Unforgettable Christmas Events in Malta
December and the first week of January in Malta and Gozo are not a time to put your feet up. The season is loaded with eye-catching and heartwarming events that instill wonder while celebrating the islands’ grand and glorious setting. Here are a few to consider:
- What I find most satisfactory is that the majority of events held utilise majestic buildings and villas that have a background of Malta heritage and culture. One of these is the 18th-century palace, Palazzo Parisio in Naxxa, where on Sunday, 10 December between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. a Malta Artisan Market will unfurl with homemade arts and crafts, fashion, jewellery, filigree creations, candles, oils, soaps, as well as food and delicacies.
- Ray Piscopo, a prolific and accomplished Maltese contemporary artist, will exhibit his Credit Card Collection (knowing full well they will have their heyday over Christmas) between 18 December and 7 January at the Wignacourt Museum in Rabat. His collection is so name for Piscopo’s method of using a credit card and swiping technique to apply the paint. Hopefully his brilliant creations help soften the sticker shock of checking your credit card statements at the end of each day!
- The highly popular and much sought after annual Malta International Choir Festival will be held between Friday 1st December and Sunday 3rd December in historic locations in Valletta and Floriana. Past editions were much more than successful with the participation of choirs from England, France, Italy, Wales, Sardinia, Hungary, Ireland, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Spain, Sicily, Greece, Estonia and Malta.
- Prepare to believe in magic and follow the magnificent Magical Illuminated Trail of lantern structures that represent The Mythical Tree, Flower Land, Fantasy Journey and Space Explorer World as well as a witness the beauty of the first ever life-size Illuminated Nativity crib in Malta, surrounded by thousands of twinkling fairy lights.
- The wonders of Fairyland dominate the Christmas scene with the breathtaking lighting of the Tritons Fountain, just outside the city gate of Valletta. Hop on Rudolph’s Big Wheel for a spectacular view of Valletta, or lace up some skates and take a spin around the ice rink, a real novelty for Malta.
- For a Nativity scene like you’ve never seen before, pop over to Gozo to see the Nativity Village and live re-enactments at Ghajnsielem, an attraction that welcomes more than 100,000 people.
To Be Continued…
Next week I will share more about the breathtaking beauty of hand-crafted Maltese Christmas Cribs, guaranteed to astound and impress you for the handicraft and artistry involved. Annually, the best three chosen are displayed at the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. in the United States.
In addition, these Cribs are in the process of apply to be listed by UNESCO as a primary item of World Heritage.
Start planning at Visit Malta
Read more about Christmas in Malta
BeSeeingYou: Malta and Gozo
Good To Know: Many of the events are free
WOW! Factor: The nativity scenes and agenda of events are impressive
TIP: Detailed planning is needed to ensure you experience everything. Why miss out?
Author Bio: Albert Fenech