Malta is deeply rooted in Catholic culture, where religion and traditions hold great significance in the daily lives of its people. One such cherished tradition is the celebration of village feasts. Almost every village in Malta has its own feast dedicated to a patron saint, creating a sense of community and camaraderie that culminates in lively street festivities. Although these feasts have religious origins, they are also an opportunity for the Maltese to let loose and revel in the joyous atmosphere of a party!
The tradition of Maltese feasts, locally referred to as ‘festa’, originated during the reign of Grand Master De Rohan under the Knights of St John, between 1775 and 1797. A feast encompasses several key elements that contribute to its vibrant ambiance. These include religious processions, band marches, community gatherings, awe-inspiring firework displays, and, of course, an abundance of delectable food. Over the years, the feasts have evolved, incorporating fast-food trucks and street parties with lively disco music to enhance the celebratory spirit.
The Essence of a Maltese Village Feast
Maltese village feasts are characterised by a vibrant blend of religious processions, band marches, community gatherings, spectacular firework displays, and a delectable array of food. As time has passed, the festivities have evolved to include fast-food trucks and street parties featuring lively disco music, enhancing the celebratory atmosphere. Organising a village feast is no small task, as the process begins a year in advance with preparations commencing as soon as one year’s celebrations come to an end. This dedicated planning ensures that each feast is a memorable event for the community to cherish. The duration of the festivities can last over a week, allowing plenty of time for locals and visitors to immerse themselves in the vibrant celebrations.
How Many Village Feasts Does Malta Have?
Today, Malta boasts approximately 60 village feasts, while the sister isle of Gozo hosts an additional 20, resulting in a grand total of 80 feasts taking place between May and September. While all village feasts possess their unique charm, some stand out due to their size and popularity. For instance, one of the most popular feasts is the one of Santa Marija, celebrated in 8 different towns and villages on 15th August annually. We suggest you visit the ones in Mosta, Mqabba, Qrendi and Rabat.
The Day of the Feast
The true essence of a village feast is experienced on the actual day of celebration. The morning march marks the beginning of the festivities, where locals delight in savouring their first few drinks amidst the lively atmosphere. Later, the statue of the patron saint is paraded through the streets, accompanied by the launch of confetti and streamers from balconies and rooftops. The day ends with a mesmerizing firework display and the amazing spectacle of ‘cikcifogu’, a traditional floor-level display of fire workmanship, accompanied by an abundance of food and drinks to ensure a memorable feast experience.
Must-Try Feast Food
No Maltese celebration is complete without the mouthwatering delicacies. Village feasts offer a unique culinary experience that should not be missed. Food stalls line the village centers, tempting visitors with an array of treats. From fried delicacies and fast food to deep-fried doughnuts and nougat, there is something to satisfy every craving. Don’t forget to try the popular ‘imqaret’, a deep-fried pastry filled with dates, and the traditional Maltese nougat, called ‘qubbajt’. And of course, don’t forget to raise a glass to the festivities!
Immerse Yourself in the Festive Spirit
The Village Festa is an integral part of Maltese identity, bringing communities together in a shared celebration of faith, tradition, and unity. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, the village feasts of Malta promise an unforgettable experience that will leave you with lasting memories and a deeper appreciation for this unique tradition.