Maltese village feasts, also referred to as ‘festas’, are a common occurrence throughout the year. In summer especially, the amount of festas happening around the island is massive.
Being that Malta is a Roman Catholic country and is highly religious, religious customs and traditions are taken very seriously amongst the locals, who actively participate in the preparations for the feast.
These feasts bring a sense of communal spirit between the Maltese people, and are the perfect time for family and social gatherings.
Each locality on the island has its own festa. Every town or village has a patron saint whom they honour by religious festivities once a year.
The festa would last around three to five days, depending on the patron saint.
For instance, the feast of Santa Marija (St. Mary) in mid-August, carries on for a whole week because the St. Mary is the patron saint of more than one locality; Naxxar, Mellieha, Gozo.
The feast of Santa Marija is so important that it is also a national holiday.
One can only begin to imagine how much activity there is in the months starting May to September, where feasts are happening almost every weekend.
Wherever you are you will constantly be seeing fireworks light up in the evening sky.
The main streets surrounding the Parish church, where the festa is taking place, are closed off during the feasts.
The streets are decorated with lights, wooden coloumns and festoons, and a chain of food stands also lines the pavements.
The churches are endowed with decorations both on the outside and the inside. The altar decorations vary accordingly and religious functions are normally held a week before the feast.
Locals also decorate their own houses. They hoist flags on their rooftops, and place large portraits of their patron saint on their balconies.
Village bands found in almost every parish church, commence their preparations for the festa programme which lasts throughout the duration of the week leading up to the feast.
However the main highlight of any festa is undoubtedly the procession where a group of around eight people carry a heavy life-size statue of the patron saint, followed by a crowd of people.
The procession is led by music from the village bands, and passes from the principal streets of the village. This tradition goes back generations and continues to (uphold) importance to this day.
Many village groups also choose to prepare firework displays, and work on them with much dedication all throughout the year.
In some cases, the church also organises fund raising activities to help fund these decorations.
On the days of the celebration, there are fireworks, music, procession, food stands, and most importantly, a communal spirit among the locals who come together to celebrate with pride, their patron saint.
It is truly an unforgettable experience for tourists who want to get a taste of Maltese customs.
We hope you enjoyed reading our blog post!
You can read our post about Top 4 Cultural Festivals in Malta 😉
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