Christmas and religion are two words leading to the birth of Jesus Christ. A feast celebrated around the Christian liturgical year. It is generally celebrated on the 25th December by millions of people all over the world.
It is the closure of the Advent four week season. Advent is a period of spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas. For Western Christianity, the season of Advent starts around the last Sunday closest to the end of November and lasts until Christmas Eve, or December 24.
Advent is a season of prayer, fasting and repentance, followed by anticipation, hope and joy.
Many Christians celebrate Advent not only by thanking God for Christ's first coming to Earth as a baby, but also for his presence among us today through the Holy Spirit, and in preparation and anticipation of his final coming at the end of time.
The Maltese are very religious and most people attend to all church functions especially for the midnight mass held on Christmas eve and on Christmas day itself. A country which is predominantly Catholic, all churches are full and mass is held in most churches all over Malta and Gozo.
It is a tradition that just before the midnight mass a pageant with children is organised depicting the birth of Jesus Christ through singing and, narrations with a modern twist.
There is also a tradition that has been held since 1883, where a boy around the age of 8 to 10 narrates the story of the birth of Jesus. The child learns the sermon by heart where it is specifically prepared by someone experienced and the parents help the child to learn it by heart from several weeks before to be able to preach it in front of all the gathered congregation.
During Advent many churches are transformed with beautiful cribs showing the nativity scene, beautiful flowers, and what we call the ‘gurbiens’ which is vetches seed, it grows into straight white long strings.
Some of the churches are decorated with the hanging of damask in papal crimson colour in preparation for the Christmas day.
All churches have their own
calendar of activities inviting all the parishioners to attend functions and
prayer as preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ. Many Christmas songs are
sung especially the many popular ones in our own language like O Come All Ye
Faithful and Silent Night.
The Maltese follow the Italian television where from the Vatican City, Pope Francis celebrates the midnight mass apart from Maltese. Many Maltese actually go to Rome for these occasions to attend the functions at the Vatican.
Christmas and religion in Malta are one aspect which we give utmost importance to. Do come and visit us in December and you will have the opportunity to become part of this beautiful strong culture.