Christmas In Malta

Malta At Christmas Transformed Into a Living Village
Of Religious Traditions And Folklore

Christmas is a time for giving and receiving. Here too Christmas in Malta is one of the most important events of the year. It effects all that we do and in everything we do.

The Maltese people are very religious and the religious aspect of Christmas is given a lot of importance. That is why it has many religious traditions and folklore going back for centuries.

The Maltese are very religious and the birth of Christ is an important part of our life. During the last 40 to 50 years Christmas has taken a new direction. It has become very commercialized and the true beauty of Christmas has diminished. But still many families try to bring the spirit of Christmas among themselves. 

It is a period where a lot of preparations start early. They mainly involve decorations of houses, schools, offices, shops, restaurants, hotels, all that which forms part of our daily life. People get involved in organizing activities, meals, get together, church functions, charitable collections, and most of all shopping.

A house in the village of decorated for Christmas

It is the feast or the occasion of loving, giving, a time of presents and getting together. It is  time where families meet up at their own homes together with relatives and friends, even though Christmas is a family get together.

With the active participation of many; Nativity scenes, displays of cribs, carol services and other events are organised in each locality.

Many exhibitions of cribs all over Malta and Gozo, from mechanical ones to live cribs as that at Ghajnsielem in Gozo attract many people.

Theatrical occasions are famous especially pantos held at various different theaters and with extraordinary attendance for many shows during December and January. In fact the cast start rehearsals from October.

Now a days in Malta there are also a percentage of people coming from other countries which have different beliefs and who celebrate Christmas in different ways and for which the Maltese have always been very respectful and loving about this.

The internet has in recent years changed how children look at Christmas. Various Santa Clause websites have flourished and children write to Santa asking for present at the same time interact with the interesting features of the site.

Christmas in Malta is a time of gathering and feasting and forgetting all that divides us.

Things to See and Do at Christmas Time

There are plenty of things to see and do in December as it is the special month of the year for Christmas of the Maltese calendar.

In the village of Birzebbugia a seven storey high Christmas tree is displayed and many other large ones on the steps of the parish church. It is a unique experience to see the biggest Christmas tree locally.

The unique Christmas Magic at Popeye's Village Theme Park also known as Popeye village film set. It is turned into a Santa's village. Many young and older ones enjoy going to the many activities throughout several days of December where the village is transformed for the Christmas period.

The live crib at Ghajnsielem, Gozo. Spread out on an area of 20,000 square metres, with 150 actors residents of Ghajnsielem and many others join in to wear period costumes going back to 2000 years where the Christmas story of Baby Jesus comes to life. Details of opening are found through this link. It is located very close to the Gozo Channel ferry where one can walk up the hill's main road for around 10 minutes.

The local crib association also holds its annual competition which is usually held during the month of December in Valletta.

The many Christmas markets that have flourished all over the islands. On this link you can find some of them with details and when to visit. The biggest one is at Rabat the village beside Mdina which goes on for several days in the open air.

Christmas at the Valletta Waterfront. See details all thorough December.

A visit is a must to the capital city Valletta with several lit up streets and decorated shops. During December Valletta is visited by many locals to buy their presents for family and friends. Various activities are held at the capital during this month.

Another very local tradition are the Christmas nativity scene where you have the opportunity to see a large variety of cribs exhibited in many villages by families at their house. They open doors for visitors, even at several clubs and associations. As you go round the island keep an eye on various homemade signs on road sides showing the way for crib exhibitions. They would have been prepared from many months before with a style of an artistic touch.

Our December page with activities where you can find all sorts of activities, from concerts, festivals, carol singing.

A booklet which should be available at all tourist offices where you can find all the most important locations for crib exhibitions in Malta and Gozo and other activities.

Display of Christmas trees at the village of Birzebbugia

What the Maltese Love to do For Christmas

The majority of the population as Maltese are Roman Catholic, traditions are very similar to those of of other Catholic countries. But Malta is even more special in the way Christmas is celebrated.

It is a tradition for many to visit hospitals, retirement homes, where they organise parties and carol singling for the many who might not receive any visitors from families.

In all parishes there are many activities during the month of December, with display of cribs, children enacting the story of the birth of Jesus, carol singing and not least the religious functions.

There are also processions or presentations at the parish hall enacting the story of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus.

Fund raising activities are very common. The most popular is L-Istrina organised by the Malta community chest fund. It is held on the 26th December on Boxing Day. The President of Malta is the patron of the foundation and completely runs throughout the year to raise funds for the many local citizens to support the many individuals and entities to improve the health, quality of life and wellbeing of individuals. This activity is held live on all the main television stations.

Another large fund raising activity is organised by the 'Dar Tal-Providenza', it is usually held on the 1 of January. It is a residential organisation based on the charism of the gospel in order to take care of persons with disability giving them a home and love to help them improve their capabilities. Transmitted live on local TV stations.

It is very common that many clubs and associations organise fund raising activities for a good cause at the same time it is an occasion together for their members and friends to work together and organise activities.

All village cores are decorated by local councils with external hanging lights Village clubs and associations decorate their premises. Every organisations activities for their members during Christmas time. We can suggest Paola band club located in front of the village parish church.

Churches do their part with cribs and internal décor. Midnight mass in all the churches is very well attended. Afterwards most of them organize a get together for the parishioners.

One of the many live traditions in Malta is the pantomime. They are musical-comedy theatrical productions both for kids and adults. They are very popular and there are usually various performances during the festive period to the early days of January. Details can be seen on the activities December page. If you wish to visit one there are several in English and you can find details on this link.

On the 24th of December midnight mass is held in all parishes where the locals fill up all the churches.  It is the tradition that a child delivers a sermon on the story of the birth of Jesus apart from carol singling and concluding with mass. There are various parishes that celebrate extra mass much earlier for the commodity of the community.

It is local tradition that after 1:00 am Christmas day many go for breakfast at restaurants and hotels with family and friends.

Many parties are organizes at night clubs, hotels and at the many important venues for night entertainment where tickets are sold from October where you can dance the night away at a festive-themed party. The main nightclub area is at St Julian's and Sliema. The location is also known as Paceville the entertainment hubs on the island.

Some of activities can be found on www.ticketline.com and www.showshappening.com

All entertainment clubs, bars, restaurants and hotels have their own entertainment programme.

After Christmas day activities do not stop especially as the new year approaches. If you will still be here there will be big festivities in Valletta late in the evening of the 31st December waiting for the new year. See program.

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