Carnival season in Malta is nearly upon us and if you have never been, you have missed one of the major events on the Island.
Carnival is celebrated in most of the towns in one form or another, but most notably with large processions and celebrations in the larger towns. As you would expect, Valletta hosts the biggest with floats carrying huge papier mache figures in bright and gaudy colours, plus a cacophony of sounds from the bands and spectators alike!
It is thought that carnival in Malta dates back to the time of the Knights of St John, when life was very different and carnival brought relief from the hardship of 16th century life. The event is always held in the week leading up to Ash Wednesday, presumably to allow the population to have a week of enjoyment before the forty days fasting of Lent.
Large events are also held in Victoria and Nadur on Gozo and as with Malta, smaller celebrations take place across the island. Of particular interest is the Kummittiva, which takes place in Xaghra. This is a dance, celebrated at Carnival time, that was first performed over 120 years ago. Originally, the dancers were all male, but over the years, finding enough men to take part has proved difficult and now women are allowed to take part. The dance is very intricate and culminates in something akin to the Maypole dance of the UK.
Where ever you go for carnival, you are sure to see something different and quintessentially Maltese. Take a look on Guide2Malta for event listings nearer the time to find all the carnivals taking place in Malta.