Malta Culture: The Festa

A joyous event in the yearly calendar of each Maltese village or town!

Perhaps nothing exemplifies the essence of Malta culture better than the village festa. This Maltese tradition started way back in the 16th century. It is essentially a religious festival that spans across an entire week, with the climax reached during the weekend and particularly on Sunday when a parade with the saint’s statue is held.

The glorious Maltese summer allows the Maltese people to have many entertaining outdoor celebrations and the festa is the most renowned local tradition of them all.

Between May and September, there are countless village festas to participate in. Every Maltese village or town celebrates one parish patron saint once a year. Some locations have more than one festa!

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During festa week, the parish church of the locality is adorned with all sorts of light decorations making it quite a sight to behold at night!

During festa week, the whole village or town is decorated for the occasion and the area comes alive with various events such as fireworks, religious services, brass band music and more.

The parish church façade is decorated with countless bulbs. The interior is adorned with other decorations that commemorate the life of the particular saint.

Over the weekend, the streets are full of stall holders that sell food and qubbajt (Maltese nougat). Qubbajt is a sweet delicacy made from raisin juice, nuts, sesame and honey.

Families and friends from outside the village or town are invited for Sunday lunch or for drinks.

To this day, the festa is still considered to be the main yearly social event of the locality. It is a time for spiritual contemplation, celebration, unity among families and friends and great food and drink!

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Spectacular fireworks are a must for each and every festa!

The Monday after the festa, some will continue celebrating by taking the day off and heading out to the beach for what is known as the xalata. This is basically another “excuse” for more food, drink and fun :)

Festas are not only popular with the locals. In fact, over the years, the village festa has become one of the most sought after tourist attractions in Malta. So if you want to experience an integral part of Malta culture, pay a visit to at least one of the many festas that are mainly held in spring or summer.

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