Marking the beginning of Malta’s springtime, Easter celebrations on the Maltese Islands are a unique and unforgettable experience. Every year, the local festivities during Easter week are as full of traditional events as they are with delicious Maltese food and sweets to try.
Here’s the ultimate list of events to help you make the most of Easter in Malta and Gozo.
Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows
Friday 23rd March 2018
Malta’s Easter festivities begin with a celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, with a procession featuring her statue taking place in nearly every town and village on the islands, including in the capital city Valletta. In 2018, a good example of this procession will be found in Għajnsielem, which will also feature around 100 people dressed as biblical characters.
Sunday 25th March – Sunday 1st April 2018
Holy Week is the week immediately before Easter weekend, starting on Palm Sunday and ending with Easter Sunday. Most churches across Malta and Gozo will lead a procession on Palm Sunday, within which palm leaves and olive branches are blessed with Holy Water and displayed by the congregation.
Thursday 29th March 2018
Holy Week continues with Maundy Thursday on the eve of Good Friday. Traditionally, each church’s parish priest will, representing Jesus Christ, symbolically wash the feet of 12 people to represent the apostles. Celebrators will then gather for the ‘seven church visits’, reciting prayers at each one and paying their respects to the beautifully-decorated ‘Altars of Repose’, which display the newly consecrated Communion hosts in preparation for Good Friday.
Friday 30th March 2018
Perhaps one of Malta’s most famous annual events are the huge Good Friday processions that take place across the islands. Traditionally, the day is one of mourning, solemnity and atonement, with ornamental decorations in churches being swathed in red cloths to mimic the blood of Christ.
The late afternoon processions, however, are spectacular displays, normally involving hundreds of people all dressed in biblical costumes processing through the streets of their hometown. Each stage of the ‘Passion of the Christ’ is commemorated by a statue carried by pallbearers, and may be followed by men in penitence carrying a cross and sometimes even dragging chains from their bare feet.
A notable example of these processions takes place in Zebbug, which is renowned for being especially extravagant and for using horses as part of the parade.
Saturday 31st March 2018
The sombre atmosphere of Good Friday continues into the following day, until the evening when a crowd assembles in church squares to witness the celebration marking the Rising of Christ. The event starts in complete darkness, with candles, lightbulbs and chandeliers steadily being lit until the church is fully illuminated. At the moment of Resurrection, the hymn ‘Gloria’ is sang by the choir and crowd, and the church bells peal triumphantly.
Sunday 1st April 2018
With the jubilant ringing of church bells across the Maltese Islands, Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Christ. Processions are held in most towns, carrying before them a statue of the Risen Christ, with one of the most notable of these taking place in Birgu, where a group of men will run uphill bearing the statue. The happy and festive atmosphere then continues into each Maltese family home, where they will enjoy an Easter lunch that usually includes roast lamb, and give each other gifts of chocolate Easter eggs or the local richly-decorated almond cake known as ‘figolla’.
Celebrate Easter with your loved ones at the Radisson Blu Resort, St. Julian’s, with a traditional Easter Sunday Lunch prepared with the freshest Spring ingredients. For more info, you can view their Easter Programme or call 21374894.