Malta is a largely Catholic island, and the rhythms of religion influence the cycles of life here, just as they have for centuries.
One of the biggest events of the calendar year is Easter. For those of you unfamiliar with Christian traditions, Easter commemorates the time when Jesus Christ was crucified, died and rose from the dead.
Christians celebrate this event because they believe Christ died to redeem them of their sins. That may or may not be your cup of tea. Personally, I’m just in it for the Cadbury eggs. But you can still enjoy the island’s Easter traditions whether or not you believe Christ existed, or that he was the son of god.
The village I’m living in holds one of the largest Good Friday processions on the island. Hundreds of people are involved, and the costumes are really incredible. It starts with early Biblical characters and leads up to the story of the passion of Christ. The events of Christ’s final hours are illustrated with massive traditional floats, carried by 8 people who quite literally stagger beneath the weight of their responsibilities. And when I say “procession” I’m not talking about your typical small town parade. The stream of participants shuffled past for over 2 hours!
It’s incredibly rare to see tourists in this village. But they sure bussed ‘em in for Good Friday last weekend!
Despite the festivity, this is a solemn occasion. Black banners draped the streets. Two marching bands played funeral dirges. And participants walked the route in mourning.
I posted some photos below, to give you a feel for what it’s like to spend Easter weekend in a traditional village in the Mediterranean. If you ever get the chance, it’s worth checking out.
All images © Tomoko Goto, 2012.