Malta is an Island in the centre of the Mediterranean. Its location gave Malta a strategic importance throughout history. Malta is a favoured destination, popular for its climate, culture and history, and also endless amount of beaches. Another aspect which makes Malta an interesting tourist experience is its old unique traditions.
Malta has a unique cuisine and also rich in traditional food that is famous all around the world. Some of the most popular food is cheesecakes (pastizzi), braggoli, fried rabbit, Maltese bread (ftajjar), beer and also traditional seasonal food such as the ‘figolli’ during the Easter time. Maltese cuisine is so popular that some traditional food shops opened in other countries, for example in London one can find a traditional food shop selling Maltese pastizzi.
‘Il-Luzzu’ – If Malta had to choose one symbol to represent it worldwide probably it would be the Luzzu. A luzzu is a traditional unique Maltese boat. It is painted in the colours of red, blue and yellow. The primary function of this type of boat is for fishing purposes, but it is also used to ferry locals and tourists across the Grand Harbour and other popular sites. Some Luzzu boats have the eye of Osiris pained or engraved, a symbol adopted from the Phoenicians.
‘Il-Karozzin’ – The Karozzin is a horse-drawn cart. This was introduced to the Islands around 1856, during the time of Queen Victoria. In fact these were known as Victoria when they were first presented. These Karozzini were the first form of transport and were practically used for everything. Today one can still see some Karozzini, however only few are used for traditional purposes (mainly by farmers), most of them are used for tourist tours around the capital city of Valletta.
One of the most popular traditional events in Malta is the ‘Festa’. Almost every town celebrate the patron saint feast of the local parish. On saints days one is expected to see traditional food such as the ‘qubbajd’, whole week of fireworks, processions with the statue of the saint, band processions and late night old-fashioned parties.
The ‘Imnarja’ is another highlight in the cultural calendar of the Maltese community. This day is a national feast dedicated to St. Peter & St. Paul. The roots of this feast date back to the pagan Roman feast of ‘Lumiaria’, which means the illumination. This feast is celebrated on the 29th of June, and on this summery night one can enjoy traditional food, such as the rabbit fried in wine. One of the most popular places known for this feast is ‘Buskett’. In 1854 the British, which at the time ruled Malta, launched an agricultural show at Buskett which is still held today. The ‘Mnarja’ is also an important day for traditional Maltese singing, known as ‘Ghana’. There are very few occasions where one can hear this type of traditional music except at the Mnarja. It is also a tradition that the groom promise to take his bride to the Mnarja at Buskett during their first year of marriage, for luck.
September the 8th – The Regatta – another traditional event held every year. Every nation has its hour of glory in battle, and the 8th of September is the day when Maltese celebrate their victories during the Great Siege of 1565 and also the Second World War. The Regatta takes place in the Grand Harbour, Valletta. This event consists of boat races between different towns, fireworks and band marches. As the Maltese are known for being Religious by tradition, a religious connotation was given to the day – ‘Il-Bambina’ or ‘Il-Vitorja’ which refers to the Our Lady or the Lady of Victory respectively.
If one is looking to discover old and traditional practices while on a holiday, one should really consider visiting Malta to enjoy some of the oldest traditional events and experiences in Europe.