From 28 Feb 2014 To 04 Mar 2014
Some hate it, others bear it, while others simply live every day of the year waiting for those five short days in late Winter / early Spring when the silliness, the senseless and the idiotic takes over. Carnival is a passion shared by many people, including the Maltese.
Click on the attachment on the right of this page for a full schedule of Carnival Events in Valletta and Floriana
Discover Malta's Carnival, which goes back hundreds of years. We find that already in the 16th century a jousting tournament was held as part of the celebrations. Maltese folk used to celebrate Carnival as did the Knights of St. John as from one week prior and up to Ash Wednesday. The origin of the name Carnival derives from the Italian phrase ‘Carne vale', which means literally ‘meat is allowed' due to the fact that during the forty days of lent, the consumption of meat was forbidden according to Roman Catholic religion. Therefore, Carnival was to be celebrated just prior to the fasting period in Roman Catholic countries.
Nowadays, Carnival is celebrated in numerous towns and villages but especially in Valletta, Floriana and Nadur Gozo. It is indeed a kind of explosion of colour in the way of decorated floats and costumes. Carnival serves also as means of merriment and a time when individuals also dress up in all sorts of weird or funny costume and just go out in the streets to join the fray.
The Malta Council for Culture and the Arts organise the official Carnival festivities that take place in Valletta from Friday until the following Tuesday. Some of the events are held inside an enclosure and may be attended against a nominal fee. On the last day, a big Carnival defile ends in the main street of Floriana with a fireworks display. Some of the events are held inside an enclosure close to Freedom Square in Valletta. The events held here may be attended against a nominal fee.
MALTA's CARNIVAL TRADITION
Although Carnival was celebrated in Malta from as early as the last decades of the 15th century, outdoor Carnival manifestations began around 1535 during the reign of Grandmaster Del Ponte. For five hundred years, Carnival has formed an important part of Malta’s traditional custom and religious calendar, being the period of merry-making and indulgence immediately preceding the 40 days of Lent. From early times, Carnival was marked by a number of activities encouraged by the Order of the Knights. The Grandmaster himself would initiate the celebrations by granting permission for the Parata dance to commence. This sword-dance was a mock fight commemorating the Maltese victory over the Turks in 1565. The grandmasters initially even allowed Justice to be suspended during the Carnival days.
Traditional Carnival manifestations included the Qarcilla, which was an early piece of Maltese comic drama involving a supposed notary who, in the company of a wedding couple, entertained the public by reciting a fictitious marriage deed in humorous Maltese verse. The Kukkanja (cockaigne) was a game introduced in 1721, whereby competitors would race up long poles in an attempt to carry off food items and livestock tied at the top. Under the Knights, too, Veljuni, or masked Carnival balls, which are still popular to this day, were held in the Manoel Theatre. More commonly, men, women and children would roam the streets with their faces blackened or covered in masks, or even wearing all sorts of outrageous clothes to disguise their identity. Up until some 30 years ago, the ‘burning’ of Carnival was celebrated, to signify the end, or “death”, of the period of revelry. Carnival started to be officially organised in Malta in 1926. Surviving Carnival food traditions include the prinjolata, which is a sweet in the form of a towering mix of sponge cake, biscuits, almonds and citrus fruits, topped with cream and pine nuts, and perlini or multi-coloured, sugar-coated almonds.
"Travel and change of pace impart new vigor to the mind" - Seneca