Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Malta - Maltesse Folklore

Maltesse Folklore

Sent by Brian, a postcrosser from Bournemouth, England.

This is from Wikipedia : Maltese folklore is the folk tradition which has developed in Malta over the centuries, and expresses the cultural identity of the Maltese people.

Local festivals celebrating the patron saint of the local parish, similar to those in southern Italy, are commonplace in Malta. Several festi take place in different towns and villages across Malta every weekend in the summer. A festa reaches its apex with a High Mass featuring a sermon on the life and achievements of the patron saint, after which a statue of the religious patron is taken around the local streets in solemn procession, with the faithful following in respectful prayer. The religious atmosphere quickly gives way to several days of revelry, band processions, fireworks, and late night parties.

In the weeks leading up to a local festa, the main streets around the parish are richly decorated, with brocade banners, ornate religious sculptures mounted on pedestals and, all around the zuntier (parvis) of the parish church, hawkers set up stalls stocked with food and the local variety of nougat. The parish church itself is typically illuminated at night, although the fjakkoli (flaming lanterns) of yesteryear have been supplanted by bright-coloured electric bulbs.

Some of the seaside towns feature a unique and popular medieval game known as the ġostra. Although the word itself is derived from the Italian giostra, Maltese ġostra has little in common with medieval jousting, and is in fact derived from the Neapolitan game of the Cockaigne pole. It involves a 10-metre long greased pole, mounted on a barge out in the bay, perched on a precarious angle out over the sea. Competing youths scramble up the pole, in an attempt to snatch a pennant, flag or other trophy from the top of the pole.

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