It’s not as bright as Christmas, and it’s definitely not as fun as Halloween, but Easter is still teeming with traditions for us Maltese folk.
When I was still a young lass – yes, many, many moons ago, I know – Easter was a big event for my family. My mother would sit down and make a list of people who would be getting one of her signature figolli shaped like a rabbit – her grandmother, Mansi, was born a Fenech, so she always insisted on having rabbit-shaped figolli; a tradition that has been kept alive since.
My father, meanwhile, would keep his eyes peeled for new exhibitions popping up all over the country, and every Sunday he’d take me to see them in his engine-red Escort. At Mużew, we’d also start learning – or re-learning? – the hymns that were to be sung in Mass on the eve of Easter Sunday.
It was a very religious time of the year, and while my beliefs are very questionable these days, the feeling of unity we experienced is definitely something worth preserving.
Good Friday Exhibitions
All throughout the land, many enthusiasts set up various Good Friday exhibitions with statues depicting the suffering and resurrection of Christ, and while you’d expect them to all be the same, each has its own flair that makes it worth visiting. My father and I used to combine this with a te’ fit-tazza (tea in a glass) and two pastizzi from a hole-in-the-wall in Valletta.
On top of being delicious, the process of making figolli can be incredibly fun for both adults and children. My mother and I used to make a weekend out of it and go to the flat in St Paul’s Bay, which my father’s great-aunt had left him in her will. There we’d have two solid days of baking and cleaning, and I’ll never forget that overwhelming feeling of pride when we stacked them all up in crates for my dad to take home.
The Risen Christ’s Run
Nope, not like the President’s Fun Run, but just as fun! On Easter Sunday, the statue of the Risen Christ is paraded around the village to celebrate Christ’s victory over evil and death. My favourite part was always the bit in which the statue-bearers ran the last bit of the procession and into church.
Palm Sunday Procession
These are nowhere near as close in scale as the Good Friday Processions, but I still prefer them. As a child, we used to be given a branch of palm to wave. These were then blessed and we took them home, along with a sprig of olive leaves. These leaves, in the Christian tradition, are no longer simply leaves, but become sacramental, meaning that they have been touched by the divine. As a kid, that is an awesome concept!
So yes, while many of these traditions’ religious elements have lost their lustre, I still love how they brought us together as a family and as a community. We don’t do much of that any more these days, so maybe we should give Easter more of a try!
Do you know of any other Easter traditions? Let me know in the comment section below.