LifestyleUNESCO inscribes Malta's traditional festa to its cultural heritage list

UNESCO inscribes Malta's traditional festa to its cultural heritage list

The party is always a time full of joy and fun.
The party is always a time full of joy and fun.
Images source: © Malta Tourism Authority
3:48 PM EST, February 1, 2024, updated: 4:32 AM EST, March 7, 2024

The list of Malta's intangible cultural heritage has expanded. UNESCO has inscribed a traditional religious festival, known as the festa, on it.

In the past few years, UNESCO has recognized the Maltese cultural heritage list by adding Ghana, a form of Maltese folk song, and ftira, a type of bread typical to the region. Now, the list has grown with the addition of another treasure.

Festa makes it to the UNESCO's List

For some, recognizing the festa as cultural heritage is the Maltese people's Mediterranean portrayal of dedication to the Christian faith. Others argue that it fosters local tradition and identity dating back to the 16th century. Significantly, the festa unites Malta's residents, irrespective of their backgrounds. Therefore, to truly appreciate this Mediterranean nation's ambiance, one should participate in at least one of its many festas.

The Festa, a fusion of vivid festivals and religious commemoration, celebrates the patron of each township or village. Every parish observes it over a week from April through October.

A season of celebration and joy

About 95 such events occur every week across Malta and Gozo, each in a different township or village.

Every festa includes a street parade, musical concerts, and fireworks, culminating with a procession on the last day. During the grand march, the clergy leads a statue of the local church's patron, followed by parish members and marching bands. For the event, the streets are lavishly decorated. The celebration officially concludes as the patron's figure is returned to the church amid cheers and applause.

Examples of festas held in Malta include the Festa di San Giljan in St. Julian's, the Festa di Santa Marija in Valletta, the Festa di San Pawl il-Baħar in St. Paul's Bay, and the Festa di Santa Marija in Gozo.

The celebrations are accompanied by spectacular shows.
The celebrations are accompanied by spectacular shows.© Malta Tourism Authority

Source: MTA

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