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Maltese Cribs: A unique Christmas Tradition in Malta

In Malta, the Crib is part of the Christmas season and tradition. It is believed that the very first Crib to be built in Malta dates back to 1617, and although there is no official document which can confirm it, the crib has been built every Christmas since.

Maltese Christmas Crib

The History of the Cribs

The design of the Cribs was influenced mainly by the Neapolitan style. However, although this style was popular in Europe till the end of the last century, many Maltese disagreed with it, claiming, that such a style did not represent the Holy Night. The more acceptable style was that of Sicilian model introduced by Benedetto Papale, a Franciscan friar from Sicily, during the second half of the 19th century. Popularity of building cribs bloomed during the 19th and beginning of 20th century. The most common material used was the rustic stone, coal residue and eventually papier mache. Another interesting part of the crib, of course, are the statues called ‘pasturi’, which were made of arth clay or candle wax.

Life-size Maltese Christmas CribThe Maltese cribs are part of the local culture, so if you happen to be visiting our beautiful Islands during the Christmas season, be sure to see some.

Nowadays you will find different displays of Maltese cribs in private homes, churches, and in exhibition spaces. Most of these cribs are hand-made and some are even life-size cribs. One popular life-size crib is “Bethlehem f’Għajnsielem” which is held at Ghajnsielem in Gozo during December. In fact the place (a 20,000 square meter of fields) is transformed into a nativity village where several volunteers take part in the reconstruction of the Christmas story. Witness horses turning mills, villagers going about their jobs, shepherds inhabiting caves, animals roaming in enclosed spaces and a poor unknown couple tending their newly-born in a grotto. The perfect Christmas atmosphere for all the family.

Are you visiting Malta during Christmas and the Festive Season? Celebrate the Christmas spirit at a luxury 5 Star hotel in Malta. Should you wish to visit traditional Maltese cribs and experience the local Christmas atmosphere during your Malta holidays please speak to Our Concierge Team who will guide you accordingly.

© Clive Vella & Viewing Malta.

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