Fiesta in Malta: a splendid celebration for the senses
Malta is mainly a Catholic country, a fact many people know about Malta. In fact, while very few things are known about Malta, the country’s Catholicism is perhaps surprisingly well-known. This is due to the country’s history. After all, Malta has been part of Catholic history, from its involvement to St. Paul the Apostle to the existence of the religious order called the Knights of the Order of Saint John. In fact, one of the country’s main attractions, the St. John Co-Cathedral is obviously a Catholic landmark. Churches and cathedrals are part about Malta that attracts visits yearly, making tourism one of the country’s foremost sources of income.
But what Catholicism has to do about Malta’s reputation as a country filled with festivals? A lot, judging from the Catholic’s penchant for extravagant celebrations. Many Catholic countries celebrate festivals, also known as festas, in commemoration of several Catholic occasions such as feast day of saints and other important Catholic events. These festas showcase what people like about Malta; the friendly, accommodating people; the living streets celebrations highlighting Malta’s culture; and the ethnic diversity very few countries can offer.
What many tourists know about Malta is the extravagance of their individual celebrations for their patron saints. These celebrations vary from region to region, as different parts of the country have different patron saints. These celebrations often involve elaborate parades, showcasing statues of Catholic figures, and a feast that lasts for the whole day. Malta also celebrates religious feast days (such as the feast of Santa Marija in August) and commemorative festivals such as the L’Imnarja festival (or the harvest festival) in June. These celebrations that showcase what tourists love about Malta make travel in the country more expensive, as the months of June to August are the country’s tourism peak months. Most of the fiestas are celebrated during these months. Therefore, tourists who want to experience the festivities that highlight what people favor about Malta should visit during these months. Festas are practically celebrated every weekend during these months in different locations. However, ample preparation such as early reservations is required if one wants to visit Malta during these times.
Still, very few people think that this is the limit of what festival-goers like about Malta. What tourists don’t know about Malta is its abundance of festivals. For example, Malta celebrates festival week during February. The whole city of Valetta celebrates this occasion, making the city more colorful and fun to visit. Floats, parades, people in costumes, extravagant merry-making in the city’s top nightspots make it’s like a Mediterranean Mardi Gras.
Tourists visiting Malta during the non-peak month of March or April will experience the country’s Holy Week commemoration. The Holy Week is not commemorated in Western countries, but it is very important in Catholic countries such as Malta. For example, a practice called the seven churches pilgrimage (or the Visita Iglesia) is very popular in Malta, where people go to seven churches to pray and pay homage to the Catholic figure called the Altars of Repose. The mood is very reflective during the Holy Week but festive during Easter Sunday. Christmas is also more festive in Malta than in other countries such as the United Kingdom or America.
Clearly, Malta’s festive celebrations add color to a tourist’s vacation and this is something other Europeans cannot match.