Traditions Field Note: Festas!

What tradition did I learn about?

The traditions I have chosen to write about are the Maltese festas, or festivals.  Since coming here in September, I have had the chance to visit a few and have loved them all.  The Maltese hold festas to celebrate their history and for religious reasons.


The religious festas date back to the 16th Century! That’s a long time ago! Every town and village holds a festa to celebrate the Parish Patron Saint of that town or village.  These festas take place every week in the summer. Sometimes there is more than one taking place at the same time.  The Maltese love to be fancy, so you can expect lots of people, decorations, music and food. You can also expect fireworks and cannon fire! That’s like having July 4th fireworks all summer long!


Festas also include a religious ceremony to honor the Patron Saint.  There is a march where local townspeople carry a cross and a statue of the Saint of their Parish. A band follows, playing music. I have enjoyed these festas so far:

  • Notte Bianca Festival, which is held in September
  • Birgu Festival, held in October that celebrates the town’s history
  • Ta’Qali (pronounced Ta-Ali) Christmas Festival in December
  • Carnival in Valletta in February
  • Malta International Fireworks Festival


The Malta International Fireworks Festival is the kick-off to the festa season.  This is a three-day festival. Each day the festival is held in a different village.  This year, displays were held in Marsaxlokk (pronounced Marsa-schlock), Golden Bay Beach and Valletta.  The countries that competed this year were Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and two towns in Malta.  Italy won and put on a beautiful Grand Finale display of fireworks!


Why does the community have this tradition?

The Maltese are a very religious people. Malta is a Catholic country.  The festas are held as a way to honor their Church Patron Saint and to celebrate the community where they live.  Since there is a lot of history in Malta, the Maltese always try to celebrate how far they have come as a country.  There have been lots of battles and wars here, so holding a festa is a way to bring the community together and to remember their history.


Is this tradition connected to its environment? How?

I would say that this tradition is connected to the environment.  When the Maltese have a festa, local farmers, cooks and bakers come to sell their goods.  All of the food and sweets sold are from locally grown foods and products.  You can find lots of vegetables, cheese, meats, honey, nougat, dates and sweets all made by local people with local, natural ingredients!

Check out my photos!

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