As soon as we reach the third week of November, Malta submits to an explosion of fairy lights and Christmas trees. In an instant, the island turns into a vast array of decorative splendour. Christmas trees start to pop up in windows, door wreathes and Father Christmases of all shapes and sizes are taken out of storage and the weather begins to turn festive. Indeed, Malta starts to enjoy some significantly cold weather, just in time for you to pull out that red coat you had bought on a whim and really should not have because you can’t afford it. The hot mugs of tea become a blessing and the thick sweaters suddenly look shiny and new.
Once the street lights go up, (let’s not forget the street lights) Malta takes on a completely different look. It begins to feel as though the streets become all starry eyed. The effect the street decorations have on the Maltese streets is remarkable. I have to admit, though, the streets in Malta, when lit up for Christmas festivities, are the most beautiful just after the rain. The roads would be wet and the lights reflected onto them. Just like something out of a ‘rom-com’ (romantic comedy).
There seems to be a buzz in the air – families planning Christmas lunch at ‘Nanna‘ (‘grandmother’ in Maltese), all the gifts we need to buy, how and when the Christmas tree should go up, whether the dog will attack it this year, and the ever-so-traditional midnight mass. On Christmas eve night, all town churches host a mass at midnight to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is one of the main Christmas celebrations most of the population looks forward to and, despite the cold weather, most Maltese families head out at about 10:30 at night to get the best seat. This mass would go on until about 1 a.m. followed by family breakfast.
The opening of the gifts… What a sight. What an experience. After breakfast, everyone would go home to open their gifts and have a second helping of food (the second of many more to come throughout the day). Growing up, the best part of the day, though, was Christmas lunch at grandmother’s house. The entire family, and I do mean ‘entire’, meets at her house to exchange gifts and eat. Eating is one of the most important parts of the day. It feels as though food doesn’t stop coming to you. We would enjoy pasta, meat, fish, sweets, cakes, vegetables, soups, and so much more.
You head to bed feeling like you will never be able to eat again. But it was Christmas.