Here are some facts about Maltese Christmas customs, traditions and celebrations.
- Christmas in Malta is celebrated all over the country’s three main islands. Children receive gifts on Christmas morning, and most people attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve.
- A child aged between 7 and 10 usually gives the sermon on midnight mass, instead of the priest. It’s considered a great honour, and children rehearse for weeks ahead of time.
- The British ruled Malta for over 150 years, and many British foods are now popular during Christmas in Malta. These include a turkey with stuffing, Christmas pudding and a rich Christmas cake.
- Cribs were introduced into Malta during the early 17th century and have been popular ever since. At Christmas, mechanical moving figures in cribs are popular in many churches.
- The Friends of the Crib Society was founded in 1986 to keep the tradition of cribs alive. The society has an exhibition of hundreds of different cribs during the month of December.
- Maltese people decorate their homes with wreaths, candles and lights. Some homes place a large figure of the baby Jesus in a window or on a balcony, and surround it with lights.
- About five weeks before Christmas, many Maltese people plant seeds on cotton buds. On Christmas Day, the shoots from the seeds are used to decorate the family crib.
- Most children take part in a school concert during the Christmas season. Children act and sing, recite poetry, and exchange gifts, often donating money to charity at the same time.
- Spending time with family is an important part of Christmas for Maltese people. Family reunions are common on Christmas Day, and these gatherings often last most of the day.
- Christmas parades have been popular in Malta on Christmas Eve since the 1920s. People dress in period clothing, sing and sometimes carry a life size statue of the baby Jesus through the streets.
What next? Visit our Christmas Around the World section to discover how Christmas is celebrated in other countries.