Malta is changing fast.
Children today are growing up in a very different world than we did.
As well as busier roads, more traffic and much more hectic lifestyles, our traditions are changing too with some in danger of dying out.
Here are six Maltese traditions that your nanna would’ve probably followed religiously when she was your age.
1. San Martin
‘Ġewż, Lewż, Qastan, Tin, Kemm inħobb il-San Martin.’
Every 11th of November, or well the Sunday following it, you would wake up to a bag full of walnuts, almonds, chestnuts and figs, or a bag full of sweets.
Think of it as the equivalent of Halloween nowadays. A tradition that kids looked forward to every year, and is unfortunately not as popular anymore.
You’d have to stay very quiet in your sleep, because San Martin would supposedly climb down your roof in a Santa-like fashion and leave the bag of goodies hanging from your wardrobe.
2. Setting up a table-long presepju
Come Christmas time, every house would be competing against each other for the best presepju set up in the town.
These things were huge, with over 150 figures. You’d have shop keepers, farmers and merchants in there, all eagerly awaiting the arrival of baby Jesus.
Either because people don’t have the time anymore, or because they don’t have the space, but you rarely ever see these gorgeously decorated presepji anymore.
3. The 40 days of Lent
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In the 40 days before Easter, you’d have whole families giving up all forms of sweets as a religious sacrifice. No meat on Wednesdays and especially on Fridays.
Some people would allow themselves a small treat on a Sunday, and wherever you went, you’d find the ħelu tal-ħarrub and the kwareżimal, which were supposedly the only form of sweets you could eat during this time.
On Easter day, kids would have their figolla blessed by the town priest and the days of Lent would be over.
Nowadays, people start eating figolli from around a week before Lent starts.
The white noodle-like shoots only around in Christmas time. If you’ve ever had a baby Jesus figure in your house, then you probably remember the Gulbiena plant that accompanied it every Christmas time.
You would plant these on the first week of December, leave them to grow in the dark so they remain white. You would then take them out about a week before Christmas day to decorate the baby Jesus figure with.
5. Wedding and baby announcements on your front door
It’s still seen in some places in Malta, but not nearly as much as it was before.
In olden days, if one of your children is getting married or you’ve just had a baby, you’d stick a white, blue or pink bow to your door, according to the occasion to let everyone know.
6. Leaving your key in your front door
Only a few years ago, people would leave their house key at their door unattended, while they ran their errands.
Sometimes, especially in Gozo, you’ll still find the odd one here or there.
Lots of us remember playing games when we were younger, counting the amount of keys left hanging from Gozitan doors.
Which of these Maltese traditions do you still follow? Let us know in the comments section below!