The ċuqlajta

One of the oldest Good Friday Maltese traditions still in use to this day!

The ċuqlajta is essentially a type of large wooden rattle (or clapper) which is used during Good Friday in Malta.

This interesting instrument replaces the church bells on this sombre day. If a particular village has this type of clapper installed in the belfry of the church, then it can be heard from all across the village! The sound that it produces is constant and unmistakable.

It can be played by the regular bell ringer of the church or by volunteers who take turns to play the instrument so as to keep the sound continuous. It can also be automated.

The size, shape and sound of these fascinating instruments differ with each village.

An old Maltese tradition, the wooden clapper is still in use in some villages to this day. Well known ċuqlajti are those that are found in Zejtun, Zebbug, Gudja, Balzan, Birkirkara and Qormi.

It is believed that this old Maltese custom was adopted as far back as the Middle Ages!

To the unsuspecting visitor, the continuous sound that the instrument produces may come as a surprise and can seem somewhat irritating at times.

Want to hear the sound that the ċuqlajta produces?

Watch this short video below …

Each church has its own “rules” on the length of time that the instrument is played. Some play it for short stretches only, while others (such as the one in Zejtun) is played more frequently and for longer!

If you’re visiting the Maltese Islands during Holy Week, do consider paying a visit to one of the old villages where they still play the ċuqlajti.

It's truly something unique!

If you’re planning your Malta vacations to coincide with Easter time in Malta, make sure to look out for other interesting and curious Maltese traditions that are usually associated with this time of year. You’d be surprised how many “different” things you’ll come across just by observing the locals and their many customs and beliefs.

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