Carnival in Malta is celebrated primarily in Valletta

Carnival in Malta: When and How the Event is Celebrated
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Carnival in Malta is an important event on the religious and cultural calendar, and follows the traditional Catholic Carnival celebration, which literally translated means ‘Meat is allowed’. Fasting during this period is still practised relatively widely by the Maltese, with many avoiding meat and sweats and least on Wednesdays and Fridays.

The five Carnival celebration days are normally held in February or early March when all out silliness takes over parts of Malta. This annual event is shared by many with the main centre of attraction being the large and brightly coloured floats passing through the streets of Floriana and Valletta.

Carnival in Malta is celebrated primarily in Valletta

When is Carnival in Malta Celebrated?

Carnival in Malta is held around the second weekend of February and will be celebrated between 9 and 13 February in 2018.

How do the Maltese celebrate Carnival?

The festivities around carnival in Malta normally includes prolific late-night parties, masked balls, grotesque mask and dress competitions, costumed revellers, marching bands and a colourful parade of large floats. The carnival festival is normally opened with a light-hearted sword dance (Parata Dance) in honour of Malta’s conquest over the Turks in 1565, true to an age-old tradition. What follows is a show of song and dance, as well as a parade of the Carnival floats.

Building Carnival floats has become a true competition with several groups from around the Maltese islands preparing, designing and constructing intricate and brightly coloured floats. Often, high power sound installations are added to these structures to ensure that the float isn’t only the most eye catching one of them all, but also makes their presence known through thumping beats, sometimes with a DJ spinning a set of turntables on the float itself.

The main celebrations and activities around Carnival in Malta take place in Malta’s capital of Valletta in the freedom square. Prizes are awarded for the best costumes, artistic dances, grotesque masks and floats. Although Valletta and Floriana set the main stage for Carnival celebrations, other localities in Malta and Gozo organise festivities of their own.

The most notable, or in some people’s eyes most notorious, celebration is the Nadur Carnival, which has grown in popularity in recent years. Held in the small village of Nadur, Gozo, this event isn’t organised by any Carnival committee and is a kind of wild celebration where mostly youths gathered, dressed up extravagantly and not particularly concerned with morals and standards, though all in good fun. Every year, the Gozo ferry has a tough time coping with the large demand of Maltese youths flocking to Nadur for what’s practically become one big street party.

History of the Malta Carnival

The feast has been celebrated since the 15th century, though the advent of the St. John Knights in 1535 boosted its importance. Back then, Carnival celebrations were held mainly in Birgu, with pageants, games and display of skills by participating knights. Even in those days, Carnival stood for extravagance, where knights held large banquets and masquerades, oftentimes setting the scene for drunken brawls.

In the 19th century, the Malta carnival had survived through the British rule and has been handed down over the years in an unbroken tradition of almost six centuries. In the meantime, Maltese carnival has developed a wide range of events and games that became part of the carnival tradition.

Carnival celebrations  in Malta have come a long way and are still a deeply rooted feast practiced by the Maltese people to date.

Typical Malta Carnival Food

The most popular Maltese food and sweets during this festivity include the Maltese carnival cake Prinjolata, a white dome-shaped cake, prepared with almonds, eggs, special seeds, cake etc and coated with beaten chocolate and meringue, decorated using cherries. Perlini are common sweets also made specifically for the carnival festivity. They are pure almonds coated in sugar of a wide range of colours.

Carnival in Malta is an important event on the religious calendar, and follows the traditional Catholic Carnival celebration, which literally translated means ‘Meat is allowed’. Fasting during this period is still practised relatively widely by the Maltese, with many avoiding meat and sweats and least on Wednesdays and Fridays. The five Carnival celebration days are normally held in February or early March when all out silliness takes over parts of Malta. This feast is shared by many with the main centre of attraction being the large and brightly coloured floats passing through the streets of Floriana and Valletta.

 

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