If You Want To Get Into A Festive Mood, Visit Malta Over December

Christmas is just around the corner and it’s a very special time for the Maltese people. As in every country, Malta has its own customs and traditions for celebrating at this heart-warming time of year.

Christmas Lights 

In the middle of November the Christmas lights are switched on in Valletta giving Malta’s capital a yuletide feel. Every road and roundabout in Malta has decorative street lights as does almost every home. Christmas decorations are big in Malta Street decorations usually involve bright blinking lights depicting Christmas trees and such. Meanwhile, residents’ tastes range from delicate white fairy lights in a window to multiple Christmas trees and entire balconies overflowing with flashing colours

Christmas Food

Food plays a big part in Maltese Christmas traditions. Traditional foods include the Christmas cake and the well-known Christmas log. The Christmas log ( ‘Buche de Nöel’) is similar to the
chocolate salami in Protugal and Italy. It is basically a very Christmassy combination with ingredients including chunks of chocolate, cherries, almonds, cookies, and a little dash of alcohol for flavour.
Other popular Christmas treats in Malta are the treacle rings (Qagħqa tal-Għasel), which are wonderful pastry rings filled with a treacle filling and ‘Imbuljuta tal-Qastan’, a traditional Maltese beverage, created with hot chestnut and chocolate.

Heirloom Baby Jesus in a manger

Every family has one of these. This icon can be several decades old as it tends to be passed on from one generation to another. The Baby Jesus resides in a wooden manger with hay, and is generally placed in a prominent place in the house. The area is decorated with fairy lights, candles and the traditional gulbiena,  which is a  hairy, white shrub grown from a species of wheat, grain or even canary seeds and can be found everywhere; on altars, around cribs, in displays of the Child Jesus.

 Midnight Mass, Mqaret and Mulled Wine

Maltese churches are packed for the Midnight Mass of the night between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – those that go to church only one day in the year would pick this occasion. Something of a cultural tradition rather than a religious one. After Midnight Mass it is customarily for parish priests offer the community traditional Maltese date cakes (mqaret) and coffee and then follows with an early Christmas breakfast that includes champagne or mulled wine.

Christmas Day Lunch

Maltese families express love with food. Christmas Day lunch in Malta is akin to a banquet. Lunch can go on for several hours, starting at 1.00pm and ending at 7.00pm and can be up to 5 courses. The volume of food could feed twice as many people attending the lunch. The sheer number of people with full bellies and free-flowing alcohol make these very loud talk-over-each-other affairs sprinkled with wholehearted laughter.