Christmas In Malta: The Feast Of The Immaculate Conception And More
Learning about all the different Christmas traditions around the world is fascinating, especially when their celebrations are different to our own. In Malta, Christmas celebrations truly kick off with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception before the rest of the festivities start.
If you’re thinking about spending the festive season in Malta this year, we’ve got all the information you need on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2023 and Malta Christmas events.
Christmas Is Incredibly Important To The People Of Malta
The majority of the Maltese population is Roman Catholic, meaning Christmas is a huge event in the country, especially the religious aspects of the holiday.
Because of this, special church services are regularly organised throughout December so people can celebrate the spiritual significance of the season.
This is part of the reason why the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated in the way it is in Malta.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2023
Celebrated on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is held everywhere and acknowledges the conception of the Virgin Mary.
A common misbelief is that the day is about Jesus' conception through the influence of God, or that Mary was conceived in the same way as Jesus. These are both incorrect and it actually refers to how Mary was conceived without sin or the stain of sin.
Special church services where hymns dedicated to Mary are sun are held on the day as well as processions through the streets. These often include music and dancing, as well as the parading of statues and figures of the Virgin Mary through the streets.
Of course, no feast is complete without some great food! Family and friends gather in each other’s houses to have a meal, especially sweet treats such as nougat. To prepare for the day, people often give their houses a fresh lick of paint so they’re looking their best for guests.
Malta Christmas Events And More
Christmas in Malta is a huge event, with the towns and cities becoming illuminated with Christmas lights and decorations.
One of the most prominent decorations you’ll see in Malta are ‘Presepju’, which are nativity cribs filled with pasturi - nativity figurines including shepherds, wise men and more. Some of these are simple and wooden, but often they are larger and mechanical.
During Midnight Mass, held on Christmas Eve, a Presepju featuring the figurine of the baby Jesus is front and centre of the service and positioned at the altar. Then, the three wise men are placed with the baby Jesus at Epiphany.
The crib tradition originally came from Italy in the 1600s, however over the years they have become more Maltese by replacing the typical Italian buildings and tradespeople. They were also made with different materials, such as clay and plaster as this made them much cheaper to make.
Now, most Maltese houses have their own cribs and pasturi, often with a figure of baby Jesus behind windows or on balconies. A few weeks before Christmas, it is traditional for the people of Malta to sow wheat, grain and canary seeds on cotton buds. These are left in dark areas of the house until the seeds sprout grass which are then used to decorate the cribs.
Christmas Eve Traditions
Beginning in 1921, Christmas Eve processions have become a beloved annual tradition in Malta. Originated by George Preca, a priest who founded the children’s charity, ‘MUSEUM’.
The first procession occurred in Hamrun with crowds of children and adults filling the streets and a life-size figure of the baby Jesus was paraded through the town. Because the evening was dark and the lighting was poor, participants brought lanterns to help light the way for the procession, shedding light on the baby Jesus who was carried by four boys.
Nowadays, these lantern-lit processions are beloved and take place across the country on Christmas Eve.
Another Christmas Eve tradition in Malta is ‘Priedka tat-Tifel’, which translates as ‘the preaching of the child’. This is a special sermon where a child, typically aged between 7-10 performs the sermon during Midnight Mass instead of the priest! This takes a lot of preparation as the child learns the speech by heart, which is then followed by a reenactment of the nativity story using the children from the community.
The religious significance of Christmas underlies the celebrations in Malta, but they are fascinating events to be a part of.
We hope you’re definitely considering visiting Malta over the festive period to take part in the unique Christmas celebrations! If you do, ensure you book with Finalrentals to make your trip as smooth as possible!