THE MALTESE FESTA - A COMMUNAL CELEBRATION
The community is at the very heart of the Maltese Festa. While manifesting its gratitude towards its patron saint(s) for the countless heavenly intercessions that have been granted through the course of history, the community reaffirms its sense of belonging and recharges its collective spirit. The core of the locality metamorphoses into a lavish venue for a week-long party that reunites all members of the community, including those who moved to other towns or settled abroad.
THE MALTESE FESTA - THE PROCESSION
Central to the Maltese Festa is the solemn procession with the reliquary and the statue of the patron saint(s). These pious manifestations epitomise the zealous religiosity prevailing in most island societies, in particular when faced with challenging situations. In turn, these holy protectors evolved into the ultimate personification of the ethos of the respective communities, and the parading of the remains and of the effigy of the same saint(s) along the squares and streets of the locality are testimony to this symbiotic affair.
THE MALTESE FESTA - FIREWORKS
Parish festas are intrinsically a tribute to the resourcefulness of the people of Malta and Gozo. The members of each community, even if adding up to just a few hundreds, are capable of staging wide-encompassing programmes of artistic, colourful and grandiose celebrations in honour of their patron saint(s). Fireworks are arguably the boldest component of these festivities. While offering outstanding spectacles of sound and colour, these disseminate the jubilation of the festa beyond the confines of the locality. Furthermore, these enhance the Maltese Festa’s uniqueness given that a good number of the petards let off have no parallels beyond the Archipelago’s shores.
THE MALTESE FESTA - LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS
Maltese Festas are a fusion of sacred and profane. Sacred liturgy and jubilant celebrations in the squares and streets are the two facets of the same coin. One does not exist without the other. Really and truly, however, the tempo is set by the pious dimension. For instance, the flamboyant street decorations mark the trail of the solemn procession held on the feast day, while the spectacular firework displays are closely related to the respective religious services and manifestations. This second didactic poster in series of five on the Maltese Festa takes a look at the extravagant dressing up of the church and at the cycle of liturgical services.
THE MALTESE FESTA - STREET DECORATIONS
The Liturgical Calendar of the Roman Catholic Church, which opens with the fourth Sunday before Christmas, provides the framework and inspiration for a packed cycle of colourful and engaging festivities. Besides Christmas, Carnival and the Holy Week, the greater part of the remaining year is taken up by parochial festas. The titular, and is some instances one or more secondary, holy patrons of the respective parochial communities provide the spark for spectacular celebrations than can span several weeks. Any self-respecting festa comprises extravagant street decorations, spectacular fireworks and cheerful band marches, let alone a full programme of liturgical services animated by orchestral polyphony inside the richly adorned churches and the solemn parading of the same holy patron’s artistic effigy along the main streets.