Category Archives: Maltese Traditions

The Festa Band in the Maltese Culture…

 Feasts in Malta

Summer is in full swing and so are the village feasts that are celebrated around the Maltese islands. During the year, especially during the summer months, towns and villages around Malta celebrate their locality’s feast in honour of their patron saint.

Lija Feast - Clive VellaBut there’s no feast without celebration and music. Band clubs in Malta are part of the social and cultural history of the Maltese islands. In fact most of the towns and villages in Malta have their own band club. Its aim is to spread Maltese culture and to teach music to the local community. Many musicians who have gone on to make a name for themselves, locally or abroad, owe their success, in part, to the encouragement and teaching of the local band club.

These philharmonic societies or band clubs, originated way back in the second part of the 19th century. With the financial support of local businessmen, individuals who possessed the talent to learn how to play an instrument bought a musical instrument and started learning, with the primary aim of performing in the village feast.

By time, the number of band clubs flourished and a Band Clubs Association was formed. This year the Association is celebrating its 60th anniversary, endorsing a membership of 84 band clubs across the island. According to the latest survey by the local National Statistics Office, the total number of bandsmen/women (bandisti) amount to over 4,000.

Every town and village in Malta and Gozo has its own band club, some even have two, as there are certain villages which celebrate two feasts – one dedicated to the patron saint and the other celebrating the so called ‘secondary’ feast of another saint. During feast time competition is at its max, where each band club strives to be the best, decorating the façade of the club’s premises in the most colourful and vivid way, launching new musical numbers, and creating the most merrymaking atmosphere possible. Marching in rows of six, wearing uniforms and proudly showing off the badge of their club, a band is normally composed of between 60 and 70 bands-men/women playing a variety of instruments.

During your summer holidays in Malta enjoy a typical Maltese feast and be part of the local festivities. And whilst staying at this superior 5 star hotel in Malta be sure to ask Our Concierge for assistance in planning your excursions and for recommendations on places to visit.

Information obtained from www.guidetomalta.net

Photos courtesy of www.viewingmalta.com, Mario Galea and Clive Vella.

Share Button

Mnarja: A traditional Folk Festival in Malta

Mnarja - Folf Festival Malta

Malta is renowned for its traditional feasts and celebrations. One of the yearly festival which is well known with Maltese and foreigners alike is the Mnarja Festival.

The Imnarja festival is held on the 28th and 29th of June yearly. During this festival you can experience various archaic Maltese customs and traditions. The name for this very popular Maltese festival is believed to have originated from the corruption of the Italian word “luminaria” which means illuminations. This refers to the bonfires that used to be lit up in Rabat, Malta during the festival traditions. (Imnarja can also be spelt Mnarja). The 29th of June is also the feast day of St Peter and St Paul, and the Mnarja festival is heavily linked to this feast. The origins of this festival date back to before the occupation of the Knights of Malta!

Imnarja Festival at a glance
The festival starts on the 28th of June in Buskett Gardens. The atmosphere in Buskett is that of a huge and never ending party, with folk music and traditional singing (ghana), dancing and plenty of food and drink. The main dish served during the event is rabbit stew. In fact, rabbit is consumed in abundance during the Mnarja festival. To wash down the food, plenty of excellent local wine is available. The festivities go on until the early hours of the following morning! In the past, there was a custom that when a couple got married, the groom promised his bride that he would take her to the Mnarja evening celebrations after they got married.

The following day, i.e. the 29th of June, is a public holiday in Malta and Gozo. On the 29th, the festival continues at Buskett Gardens. This time though, it is more of an agricultural show where you can see lots of farmers proudly exhibiting their fresh produce. In the afternoon, the attention is switched to the Telgha tas-Saqqajja in Rabat (Saqqajja Hill) where bareback horse and donkey races are held. Thousands gather to watch these races each year. The winner of the race is awarded a colourful brocade banner.

The Imnarja festival is a huge sociable and family affair where families and friends meet and celebrate day and night in Buskett Gardens, which is the largest natural woodland in Malta.

The Grand Hotel Excelsior offers you great ideas on what to do in Malta during your upcoming holidays. Visit this superior 5 star hotel in Malta‘s website and stay updated with events taking place around Malta.

Share Button

Experience Medieval Mdina

An age of chivalry

mdina

Mdina was inhabited and possibly first fortified by the Phoenicians around 700 BCE. Phoenicians called it Maleth. The region benefits from its strategic location on one of the island’s highest points and at maximum distance from the sea. Under the Roman Empire, Malta became a Municipium and the Roman Governor built his palace in Mdina. Tradition holds that the Apostle St. Paul resided in the city after his historical shipwreck on the islands. Much of its present architecture reflects the Fatimid Period which began in 999 AD until the Norman conquest of Malta in 1091 AD. The Normans surrounded the city with thick defensive fortifications and widened the moat. The city was also separated it from its nearest town, Rabat.

Malta passed to the Order of Knights of the Hospitallier of St John of Jerusalem in 1530 AD. Mdina hosted the public ceremony in which each Grand Master swore an oath to protect the Maltese Islands and the rights of his subjects. A strong earthquake in 1693 AD led to the introduction of Baroque design within the cityscape. The Knights of Malta rebuilt the cathedral, to the designs of Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafa. Palazzo Falzon, the Magisterial Palace and major restoration works are other projects undertaken by the Knights.

Another great Event in Malta – the Mdina Festival

the-medieval-mdina-festival 2

The Medieval Mdina Festival will be organised for the fifth consecutive year in the streets of Mdina. The Festival will be held between the 3rd and 4th May 2014. During this two day event there will be re-enactments by foreign and local groups, Medieval Music, Sbandieratori, Illusionist, Jester, Falconry and birds of prey, Lectures, Concerts, Food & Drinks, Medieval Market, Medieval Kitchen and Children’s Area.

The popularity of this Festival is evident from the number of visitors in previous years. The request from a good number of foreigners and Travel Agents proves that this festival is now popular as well with foreign enthusiasts. Some Tour Operators also advertise the Festival in their brochures. During the Festival the participants will perform all day long in various corners and squares of Mdina. Exhibits will include battles, skirmishes, re-enactments of scenes from the Medieval Period,
like the Town Crier, a Slave Market, a re-enactment of a Medieval Kitchen, Sword Fighting, Archery, Medieval Tavern, Magic Shows, Live Music, Birds of Prey flights, Parades, Flag Throwing shows, and spontaneous re-enactments.

The festival serves as a cultural exchange between local talents and foreign groups, disseminating the cultural heritage of the Medieval Times. It is also a good educational exercise to teach both children and adults the history of the City of Mdina. During the festival all the Tourist Attractions extend their opening hours and offer special reduced prices. Food and drinks will be in abundance during the Festival and a good number of outlets will offer medieval food on in their menus during those days.

As it is the smallest Local Council on the Island, the Mdina Local Council requires a lot of support to organise such a significant event. Indeed the festival is supported by a number of Goverment Departments; residents and the local Business Community, particularly the SMEs present in Mdina.This assistance takes several forms, ranging from advertising to direct participation. Indeed, some companies set up stands exhibiting their products, and are directly involved in exchanges with similar international exhibitors. This gives the festival another dimension, that of a promoter for exchange of ideas amongst other business communities.

The Grand Hotel Excelsior offers you great insight on things to do in Malta. Visit the website of this superior 5 star hotel in Malta and stay updated with events taking place around Malta.

Photos courtesy of www.viewingmalta.com.

Share Button