Christmas is a well celebrated festivity in Malta. Both for its religious meaning and for its more social side. The season is celebrated to the fullest in the Maltese islands, with the active participation of the majority of the population; Nativity scenes, Christmas carols and other events are organised in each town.
If you come to study in Malta, although it is cold in winter compared to the summer temperatures, you will discover that it is one of the warmest places in Europe to spend the Christmas season and it is an experience worth living for, as the Maltese people get all involved with this festivity. As Malta is a Catholic country, most of the Christmas traditions celebrated here are related to the Catholic religion or have their roots in it.
You can start getting in the Christmas-vibe with these 7 Christmas traditions that take place on the island of Malta.
1. ALL IN WITH FESTIVE DECORATIONS
Christmas decorations are big in Malta. One of the big differences you will notice on the island is the hanging of decorative lights, you will find them almost in every corner. We warn you from the beginning that you will be surprised when you come across cities full of lights.
Residents also decorate their houses. It depends on the city but these decorations can go from simple static lights hanging on the windows to Christmas trees and fully covered houses with blinking lights where you can barely see the house that is behind. Some Maltese people get overly excited about lighting up their homes. They like to be as loud as possible with the decorations. You’ve been warned.
2. VETCHES (ĠULBIENA)
This is a typical Maltese white live decoration. Vetches are sprouts grown from canary seeds. These seeds are planted in a dark place in the first week of December. A few weeks later, the vetches look like long, noodle-like shoots. So by Christmas Day it’s grown and taken out its container and traditionally placed near by baby Jesus in the manger or in tables around other decorations, in village Churches, as well as window sills and any place the plant is allowed to grow and hang.
Ġulbiena is a word that definitely evokes memories of Christmas time for the Maltese and the only purpose of its growth during this season is all about serving a nice decoration.
3. BABY JESUS FIGURE
When celebrating the birth of Christ, the Maltese have the tradition of placing statues of Baby Jesus (Gesu' Bambin) in a manger. This tradition is nowadays mostly followed by Maltese older generations. But the curious thing is that this statue can be several decades old as it is usually passed from one generation to another. Becoming more valuable throughout the years, and even more if it has been maintained in perfect conditions. The antique statue is generally placed in a prominent location in the house, surrounded by lights, candl