If for some, Easter only means the beginning of Spring and chocolate eggs, for the Maltese, who are very Catholic, the religious aspect is extremely present.
Easter in Malta
With many numerous festas processions, passion plays, marches and various other celebrations, Easter week in Malta is more commemorated than Christmas. It is also important to know that unlike some other countries, Easter Monday is not a public holiday in the archipelago.
The Holy Week
Holy Week celebrates the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. It officially begins on Palm Sunday (April 5 this year), one week before Easter Sunday. But in reality the Maltese start the Friday before Good Friday by making a procession with the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows in Valletta and in some villages. Then, throughout the week, many banners and illuminations animate the streets of Malta.
Maundy Thursday represents the last meal of Jesus Christ and the the beginning of the mourning. On this occasionMany churches display representations, similar to the Christmas cribs, of the Last Supper and the Easter story. On this Maundy Thursday, it is traditional for families to visit seven churches to pay homage to the altars of rest.
It is also a kind of wake that begins because Christ dies the next day (Good Friday for those who followed!). Thus, there is nothing likea long night walk to get your mind right. And the least we can say is that it works! More than 10,000 faithful are gathered all over Malta! So know that there will be people on the roads that night! You will see walkers everywhere, preparing for their personal challenge. To reach the cities of Mellieha to Marsascala while passing by the Dome of Mosta, that is to say more than 30km from 2 am to 7:30 am for the sunrise! And as in any marathon, everything is planned: supplies for the night hikers, encouraging grandmothers in front of their doors… and even buses for the most tired!
On Good Friday, the official day of mourning, and therefore a holiday here, the churches are deprived of their traditional ornaments. The absence of bells and mass bring a very dark and heavy atmosphere. However, many large processions take place in various places, usually in the afternoon. Zebbug in Malta as well as Xaghra in Gozo organize extravagant processions for which they are famous. Other processions take place in In Valletta, in the Three Cities or in Mosta where repentants walk with their bare feet chained… Other processions, impressive of fervor and recollection, are organized. In Malta, especially in the villages of Luqa, Naxxar, Paola, Qormi, Rabat and Gozo. Nadur, Victoria and Qala, among many others, also vibrate to the rhythm of Easter celebrations.
Finally, the atmosphere on Easter Sunday is more joyful. The Maltese celebrate the resurrection of Christ. A procession takes place in the morning. During this one, the procession, accompanied by brass bands, carries a statue of the Risen Christ. Churches are coming back to life and organizing special masses. The event is particularly impressive at the port of Valletta and the Three Cities.
The Easter meal in Malta
On Easter Sunday, families gather for a big lunch to break the fast. They exchange small gifts like the famous chocolate eggs. It is also traditional to taste the “Figolli”, a dry cake with marzipan, chocolate and lemon.
This is also the time of year for Hot Cross Buns. These candied fruit flavored buns are truly divine!
Like every holiday in Malta, Easter celebrations have their specialties. You can taste “Kusksu”, a traditional bean soup. Qaghaq ta’l-Appostli”, a bread decorated with almonds and sesame seeds, is sold on Holy Thursday and Friday. Finally, the “Kwarezimal”, a cake made of honey, almonds and various spices, also invites itself on the tables.