Easter Traditions and Celebrations in Malta






Easter is one of the most coveted religious events in Malta, which stands to reason given the dominance of the Catholic faith in the Maltese Islands. This holiday brings many celebrations with it, both of the religious kind as well as the culinary! Let’s dive into the multitude of customs and traditions associated with this special time of year.

The Holy Week

The Holy Week precedes the Easter celebrations, and is not short of activities itself. This week kicks off on the last Friday before Good Friday, a day which is dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows and is commemorated by a procession, which is often held in majority of the island’s towns and villages.

The following Thursday is known as Maundy Thursday, which is the unique tradition of visiting and praying in seven churches during the night. Many locals take part in this practice, and a vast majority of many churches and chapels located in Malta and Gozo remain open to the public until the late hours of the night. You will see many locals flocking to numerous churches to say a few prayers. Many people pick churches that are located within walking distance of their home, making a vigil out of the experience. If you are not particularly religious, this is a great opportunity to have a look at some of Malta’s most beautifully decorated churches. These are often donned with traditional Easter decorations, and many candles, creating a remarkable atmosphere!

Then comes Good Friday. On this day, a procession takes place remembering the Passion of Christ. This is usually done during the daytime and includes a number of scenarios and statue which illustrate an episode of Christ’s final journey. Members of the parish church participate in these processions dressed as biblical figures, Roman soldiers among other figures.

The culmination of Easter

Undoubtably, the biggest and most important day of them all is Easter Sunday. On this day, church bells ring jubilantly, and statues of the Risen Christ are carried in the streets and in some localities, the way is cleared and the statue-bearers make a mad dash to carry the Risen Christ triumphantly back into the church. And to finish off the celebrations after many weeks of Lent and fasting, families gather at home to celebrate with a big family meal.

Food and Faith

As with other celebrations, such as Christmas or Carnival, Easter in Malta is also strongly associated with delicious traditional food. Preparations of traditional treats begin early on with the delicious kwareżimal, an easy to make almond biscuit with a spiced and citrusy aroma, that is usally available in stores weeks before!

Since most of the locals decide to fast from meat on Good Friday, several vegetarian dishes have become a staple in Maltese cuisine. A savory item we simply need to mention is the ‘Qagħaq tal-apostli’, in English ‘Apostle’s ring bread’, a delicious unleavened loaf of bread with a crunchy crust covered with sesame seeds and whole almonds. This bread is made specifically during the Lent period, and is traditionally eaten after the Seven Visits on Maundy Thursday.

Every year, you’ll find many Maltese people anxiously waiting for Easter Sunday so they can dig into their ‘figolla’. In this delicious treat, a soft almond filling is sandwiched between two large lemon and orange flavoured biscuits. The figolli are then covered and decorated with a layer of royal icing or chocolate and are often done Christian traditional shapes such as fish, however recently new shapes have become common, such as lambs and butterflies. Traditionally, many families bake a multitude of this Easter treat to give to friends and family, especially children on Easter Sunday.

BONUS: The Laferla Cross pilgrimage in Siġġiewi

Thousands of pilgrims walk together in the Southwestern village of Siġġiewi to pray and sing hymns in a torch-lit procession to Laferla Cross. This cross is known by the locals as “Is-Salib tal-Għolja”, translating to “The Cross on the Hill” due to it being located on 219-meter-high hill. Moreover, before the Laferla Cross walk, Thursday sees Siġġiewi’s Parish Church surrounded by thousands of candles, a truly remarkable moment you should experience at least once in your lifetime!

Shanna Mercieca


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