Christmas is the most celebrated festivity in Malta and Gozo. Both for its religious significance and social aspect. The season is celebrated to its fullest on the Maltese Islands, with the active participation of many. Christmas events are organised in various localities throughout the island.
Malta during Christmas Time
The Maltese love to decorate their homes and one can feel the holiday spirit all over the island. Whereas the significance of the religious aspect of the feast has been overshadowed by its commercial aspect. The central theme of the Nativity still plays a significant role on the island. Christmas traditions are very much alive and family oriented. For some people Christmas preparation in Malta is an all year round activity! In the beginning of November shops start decorating their windows and displaying their Christmas items. The streets of Valletta, Sliema and other major shopping areas are adorned with beautiful Christmas lights. Many shopping centers play Christmas carols throughout the festive month.
Christmas Preparations in Malta
Many village centers, including the parish church and streets are decorated by mid-November. The Maltese decorate their homes including balconies, windows and front gardens with Christmas wreaths and Christmas lights. Every household also has a Christmas tree and the traditional crib ‘Presepju‘. Large figures of the baby Jesus are sometimes put behind windows or in balconies and lit at night. Restaurants and hotels start rolling out their menus and sleep over packages by mid-October. Companies and organisations start organizing their much awaited staff parties. School play an important role in Christmas preparations. It gives children the opportunity to express their talents. Whilst at the same time enhance their religious and cultural awareness. Children prepare Christmas crafts, decorate classrooms, sing Christmas carols and practice for Christmas concerts.
The weather in Malta during Christmas Time
Christmas is a good time to be in Malta. The weather is mild, with warm sunny days being common. Temperatures range between 11oC and 18oC. The Malta Christmas weather is warmer than most of the European mainland. A sunny Malta Christmas week is par for the course in most years.
Christmas Shops in Malta
Christmas shopping is a highlight for everyone during the Christmas period. Commerce inevitably plays a big role and is vital to retailers. Malta offers diverse opportunities shopping experiences. It satisfies the casual buyer as well as the serious shopaholic. Malta provides many shopping options. From artifacts and handicrafts to branded outlets for the latest fashion. It has all the ingredients to give you an absolute retail pleasure. One finds retail stores and shopping centers across all major towns and villages. During the Festive period the main shopping streets around the island are lavishly decorated enhancing the Christmas shopping experience. Retail outlets and shopping centers can be found in all the major towns and villages. The foremost among these are in Valletta in Republic Street and Merchants Street. In Sliema along the seafront promenade and surrounding areas namely Tower Road, Bisazza Street and the Strand. Located further along the Sliema promenade is the Tigne’ Point Shopping center. In St. Julian’s and Paceville. In Paola around the town’s center. In Hamrun along High Street. In Mosta around the town center. In Bugibba and St. Paul’s Bay and in Victoria (Rabat) in Gozo. Shops are regularly open from Monday to Saturday, mornings and evenings. Opening times being between 09.00 – 13.00 and 16.00 – 19.00hrs. In tourist areas and shopping centers, shops are open throughout the day Mondays to Saturdays, from 09.00 till 19.00 hrs and even later. During the Festive period shops operate extended hours. They are open throughout the day including Sundays and Public Holidays.
Christmas Activities in Malta
There are several activities and things to do in Malta at Christmas. The highlight of Christmas festivities is reached on the 24th December. When Midnight Mass is celebrated in most churches. Ahead of mass a pageant with children singing and dancing is held in church. This is followed by ‘Priedka tat-tifel’ (Christmas homily given a child), a tradition that has survived from the late 19th century. A Malta Christmas holidays highlight is the annual pantomime. Held at the Manoel Theater and at other venues. The pantomime is popular for children and adults alike. It is a typical Christmas entertainment. It utilizes a fairy tale or nursery story which involves music, jokes, mingled with comedy. It’s a happy mix of good slapstick humor for children and satire for adults. In recent years, in Ghajnsielem (Gozo), some abandoned fields close to the village center were converted into a Nativity village. Over 150 actors take part in this live animation of a mini Bethlehem. Complete with craftsmen going about their work, farmers and shepherds, and of course the Holy Family as center of attention.
Visiting cribs is a popular activity at Christmastime. Many locals and tourists spend time touring villages visiting crib displays. Some cribs are very artistic and elaborate. With figures moving around mechanically. Others have ‘pasturi’ which incorporate a degree of detail. It takes many hours of meticulous work by dedicated craftsmen to achieve such detail.
To embrace the Maltese Christmas spirit one is encouraged to participate Natalis Notabilis event. Held yearly this is very popular and successful drawing large crowds of visitors. This event is held in the historical village of Rabat. It is the biggest Christmas village on the island spread over 5 days turning this quite village into a Christmas wonderland.
You will find stalls with a variety of local and foreign foods and stalls selling all sorts of items. A nativity trail, crib exhibition, Christmas carol concerts and outdoor performances.
Another event ‘Milied Mellieħi’ is held in the village of Mellieħa whereby one can enjoy folk groups, bands, majorettes and more.
Merry Christmas – or as the Maltese like to say ‘Il-Milied it-Tajjeb’.