The Maltese Islands have a number of religious festivities and cultural events that take place every year.
Feast days are the life of the Islands and some holy days are actually national holidays, such as the feast of Santa Marija in mid-August. Others, such as the harvest festival of Mnarja at the end of June, are steeped in folklore. However, the most important events to all villages are their individual festas, honouring their parish patron saint.
Religious holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, are highly celebrated, with the traditional festivities that go along with them. As families tend to be quite close-knit, the holidays are a time to strengthen the sense of community as well as reinforce family bonds. Church services play a large role during this time of year and during the Holy Week of Easter, many flock to the churches in great numbers for the‘seven visits', the visit of seven churches, to pay homage to the Altars of Repose.
The festive commemorations are also a time of food, drink and merriment which brings out the Mediterranean roots of the locals. Families prepare large Christmas and Easter lunches; giving thanks for all that they have with their relatives. During these festas the streets are lined with carts, selling a wide assortment of different foods as well as the more traditional sweets and delicacies.
Introduced relatively recently, cultural events such as the Malta Fireworks Festival, the Malta Arts Festival, Notte Bianca, the Malta Jazz Festival and Mediterranea in Gozo are becoming traditions in their own right.