Easter in Malta

Procession Good Friday

The image above is the last statue to be carried through the streets of Haz-Zebbug in the Good Friday procession but more about that later.

I came back to Prague last Tuesday after spending two weeks around Easter in Malta with Ann and her family. And for the last 5 days my parents joined us as well. It was again a really nice trip and great to see Ann and her family.

I’ve just finished uploading all my pictures and this time round Ann and I shot a lot of video that I hope to turn into 3-4 different videos. All that takes time but the videos will eventually come up over the next couple of weeks.

I’m used to celebrate Easter with bunnies, colored eggs, “gækkebreve” and with an Easter egg hunt as the highlight of the Easter dinner. Most of these Danish traditions have little if any religious content. This is in contrast to Malta where Easter, as the most important feast in the Roman Catholic Church’s calendar, is celebrated in many unique and colorful ways.

On Maundy Thursday we eat Qaghaq ta’ l-Appostli (the apostles ring bread) a sweet white ring of bread. I think it’s to represent the last supper (correct me if I’m wrong). For Easter these breads are sold everywhere from the back of cars and in the shops.

Qaghaq ta' l-appostli

There are also some sweets called Figolli which I will spend a whole blog post on some other day and Kwareżimal which are one of the few sweets that is suppose to be eaten during lent.

The night of Maundy Thursday a lot of Maltese people go out and visit seven different churches or go in of seven different doors of the same church saying seven different payers. So there is a lot of people in the streets as the towns are buzzing from people strolling around. In the churches the main cross and alter is covered or removed and instead the attention is directed to a side-alter where a display with a halo/sun as the centerpiece is made for this event.

Church#1Church#2Church#3Church #4Church#5

We went to Rabat/Mdina in the middle of the island and visited churches there. If you click on the pictures above you can see the special decorations made in churches we went to.

Good Friday was the day of Christ’s long suffering and this is commemorated with processions in Malta. We went to the processions in Haz-Zebbug. This is a parade of groups of people dressed up in various costumes from the times of Christ. Everybody looking sad or solemnly as they parade in front of us in very impressive costumes. Between the groups were life-size statues depicting the different stages of the Passion of Christ on big wooden boards carried by 8 men in white robes.

Roman officer in Haz-Zebbug
Old wise men?
The biggest statue of this procession
2009-04-10 Good Friday 011
Kids and parents at the procession
Colorful costumes
Jesus getting wiped
Hooded penitent people

The costumes where very detailed and it was fascinating to see them. For some reason I thought it would be over quick but because the statues they carry through the processions were so heavy they would walk some 20 meters and then take a break, so it took some hours for the whole procession to walk through the town.

On Easter Sunday there was another procession. This time to celebrate the Risen Christ so gone were the solemn face and now there was a band with the procession. The procession we went to had one statue and it was one of Jesus rising from his grave.

Risen Christ Procession
Risen Christ
The carriers of the big statue

The statue itself was very impressive but the most impressive by this event was when they ran with it, several times. This video shows them running with the statue and lifting it up at the end as paper confetti is thrown from the surrounding houses, the band playing in the background and people cheering:

I’m not a particular religious person and I find these displays a bit overwhelming in their expression compared to how private religion is practiced in Denmark. But the Easter celebrations in Malta are really impressive shows of devotion and I’m glad I finally got around to see it for myself. I had some great guides into the Maltese traditions by Bernard, Cecelia and Ann 🙂

Look out for the next blog post about our trip to Malta.