Malta...a tiny island with a long history. Its religious background defines its culture. The Maltese have a flair for outdoor living in summer and spending cosy evenings at home in the winter!  They have been ruled by so many different nationalities and rulers, all of which have all left something behind. 

Sadly, hunting is still rife in Malta. Malta lies in one of the main flyways for migrating birds, and its hunters illegally shoot many thousands of migrating birds every spring.

 

 

Briefly....

Malta is a deeply religious country, with very traditional values and norms. Attending mass on Sunday is still a habit, and shirking away from it is frowned upon by the older generation. The Maltese try to find ways and means to make life on this tiny island more colourful and varied. New trends and ideas from abroad help to shape the way the inhabitants spend their time.  Fifty years ago the Maltese were a very insular nation but nowadays thanks to modern technology , television, travel and visitors that has all changed and although the family unit is very close, the way of life is like that of other european countries.

The Maltese are generally very helpful and hospitable people. They just love hosting and welcoming tourists, partly because tourism is vital for the survival of Malta, and they are always happy to talk. But they are quite conservative and do not like certain customs that tourists bring.

Malta has a very weak literary culture. Literature is not cherished in general, except by the cultured. However, one cannot say that the Maltese do not  read at all, because political papers are scrutinised and read from cover to cover by many, even those who are almost illiterate. Politics is important in Malta, and is the subject of many discussions. Nearly everything in Malta has political connotations, even band clubs and professions.  As Malta is so small that the politicians are easily accessible .  Other heated subjects are football and village feasts - and they can be VERY heated.

In summer 

The Maltese people just love to go out. In summer, they spend a lot of time by the sea, either swimming during the day or holding barbecues on the sandy or rocky beaches in the evening. The sea is so much part of the culture that there are many who own or rent an apartment by the sea just to be even closer for a plunge.  You will see whole families out on the promenades in summer and nothing beats a stroll there.

Village festas, although having religious origins, are nowadays extremely entertaining. This is a typical Maltese tradition, deeply embedded in culture. Being a devout Catholic country, each village in Malta has at least one church dedicated to a patron saint. The village celebrates the feast of its patron saint on a particular weekend. Most festas are held in summer. A festa is a showcase of the village, with colourful pelmets lining the streets, statues adorning the village square and fireworks coloring the skyline at night. The village band also plays a vital role by adding music to the already joyful atmosphere. Being in Malta in summer means that you have to go to a festa to taste the culture of a village.  The traditions of the village feasts of years gone by are still active today.  For example, the stands selling traditional nougat are specifically designed and have been used for several years. They are an intricate part of the feasts. Villages and towns go all out with the fireworks displays.

Open air discotheques are also very popular. They bring the music scene out into the open air, especially in the hot summer when people just want to spend time outside.  Spending an evening in an al fresco bar, preferably overlooking the sea is the ideal way to while away the time .

In winter 

In the past few years Malta has seen a number of wine bars mushrooming in the traditional villages. Wine-drinking has become a vital part of the culture. Wine bars are always packed with people savouring different wines and typical Maltese platters, including the much sought gbejna (cheeselet) and bigilla dip (a pate made of broad beans) served with the famous Maltese bread (crusted white bread) and galletti (hard water biscuits). The most popular wine bars are those offerng a rustic ambiance with a hint of minimalism in their decor.

Mdina in the evening is a beckoning old town. Named the Silent City, for the reason its name implies, it attracts locals and tourists alike for its spectacular views and restaurants which satisfy the appetites of demanding patrons.  Walk through the cobbled narrow streets lined with palazzi, chapels and noble houses, and admire the Cathedral and the large square in front.

Christmas in Gozo and Malta is properly celebrated and various traditional festivities and activities are held. 

Traditional Trades

There has been a realisation recently that it is important that tradional trades do not die out as they form an important part of Maltese culture.

Qormi was home to the first bakers of Malta and was well known in the time of the Knights. It is still renowned for its bakers today.  Every year a festival is held with various activities promoting Maltese folklore. You can experience the way Maltese of years gone by lived, watch how Maltese bread is made and just enjoy yourself with a glass of wine (maltese of course) .

Maltese wine is very good and a number of festivals are held each year with wine tasting and folklore.

Another product that deserves attention is Olive Oil.  The presses are kept busy.  Oil in maltese is Zejt.  Zejtun celebrates the olive picking season and olive pressing for oil.  Again the Maltese don`t lose any opportunity to enjoy a festival -  typical agricultural products and folk art will be exhibited in the ambience of an old country village.

Maltese Lace has always been sought after. Nowadays, as you wander through the streets of Gozo , you are unlikely to come across women working away at their bobbins as you would have done just 30 years ago.  But the ancient tradition of Maltese lace making is changing rather than simply fading away and designs are being brought up to date. 

Falconry is still practiced, so is the Rowing Regata in the Grand Harbour, Fireworks Festivals, Carnival all still have a place in the calender of events.  Various National festivals are held annually.

Malta has so much to offer, so versatile are the possibilites of making life a little more vibrant and full of energy. And all this, in spite of it being only 30km long!