Cute Xmas Traditions from the island of Malta

Priedka tat-Tifel

Perhaps one of the cutest Xmas traditions that you will come across in Malta, is the “Priedka tat-Tifel” which means the child’s sermon.

This Maltese Christmas tradition was first started in 1883, when a little boy by the name of George Sapiano delivered a sermon on Christmas Eve. George became the first altar boy to deliver the sermon instead of the priest. This event took place in Luqa.

From that year onwards, a yearly tradition was born. On Christmas Eve and also during mass the following day, a little boy or girl is entrusted to do the sermon. The priest takes the day off from the sermon!

xmas traditions malta

The sermon takes weeks and weeks of studying!

The child is usually between 7 to 10 years old. Of course, the smaller the child is, the greater difficulty he or she has in learning the sermon by heart! Usually it takes the child some 5 weeks to learn it all.

On the day of the sermon, you can literally feel the anxiety and nervousness of the parents, who sit at the very front rows of the church to support their child. Sometimes you will see the mother and father miming the words along. The mother would have probably spent the previous five weeks teaching and rehearsing the sermon with her child :)

The boy or girl stands in front of the main altar and tells the story of baby Jesus, adding that personal touch to the story which invariably touches the hearts of all present. It’s not uncommon to see some people get teary as well. The child also uses gestures to accentuate the meaning of certain words and phrases.

When the child finishes the sermon, all those present break out in loud applause.

The happy and satisfied look on the child’s face is priceless!

Other Maltese Xmas Traditions

At school, children are taught how to make gulbiena.

Gulbiena is prepared by sowing wheat, grain and canary seed on cotton buds a few weeks before Christmas. The buds are left in the dark until the seeds grown into white grass-like shoots.

They are then used as a decoration for the Christmas cribs or placed near statues of Baby Jesus.

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