“The colour used during some of the Maltese feast celebrations is
contingent, whose meaning, like language, lies in the particular context in
which band club aficionados experience and interpret. Words by Simon Farrugia.”

The Maltese festa is highly important in Maltese and
Gozitan localities. Here one can find a band club or two,
and in some cases, even a third one. The highlight of
festivity produced by these bands is displayed during
the summer months, where, amongst other traditions,
one notices wind bands performing new marches,
exceptionally decorated churches, and streets packed
with people. In several localities, a particular colour is
assigned to one band club. This is highly evident in the
Maltese festa – some using red and others blue, while
others green and white, so as to distinguish them from
one another. So one may say that the Maltese band club
is a representation of the Maltese society, but in a much
smaller space. This depiction includes the committee
(the president and the members forming the same
committee), band aficionados, and the band which forms
the club itself. As each country has a national anthem
(patriotic musical composition), band clubs in Malta have
an anthem which represents their society that evokes
and eulogises the traditions and its past experiences.
In this context, the colour is even used to represent the
‘każin’.


Colour is not only the characteristic of human visual
perception which is described through colour categories
(named as red, blue, green, white, orange and so on),
but holds an array of meaning to people around the
world with different cultural backgrounds, and can
inspire people’s emotions. Additionally, colour denotes
meaning in several religions. In fact, it signifies aspects
of religion, and it is even used in religious ceremonies –
for instance the red which symbolises the blood of Jesus
Christ and sacrifice.


The colour blue in the Maltese feast, for instance,
represents the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to scholars,
the colour blue signifies biblical roots, and is specifically
mentioned in the book of Numbers where it refers to the
people of Israel. This means that blue is a very important
colour in the artistic traditions of Christianity, and thus
reminds us of Mary’s faithfulness, and her privileged role
in the history of salvation.


Other colours frequently used in feasts are yellow/gold
which symbolise the glory, faith and joy of God; and white
indicating surrender, righteousness, and conquest. If
these two colours are combined (gold/yellow and white),
they form the flag of the Vatican City. Nevertheless,
colours do not always signify religious meaning to all
Maltese, since they also have other connotations.

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The two colours, red and blue as examples, are used by
several band clubs in Malta. In parallel, these colours
are also used by Malta’s two main political parties; red
used by the MLP while blue is used by the PN. The use of
these colours by the two political parties is very evident
during mass political activities organised by the same
parties. This distinction may be noted in several villages
that have two or three band clubs. Underlying these
colours used during the festa celebration, there are past
ingredients which have become part of the way in which
we Maltese celebrate. These may have been integrated
with the tradition since some band clubs have had
relations with certain political parties. In fact, 70 years
since the beginning of bands in Malta (circa 1860s till
the 1930s), several band clubs in Malta have supported
a political party or a specific politician. However,
nowadays, club members are not to express political
views in the club, and the club cannot be used as part
of the political campaign to display posters, leaflets,
and any other material related to politics. It may be a
coincidence to have two band clubs in the same locality
– one assigned to red, and the other to blue. However,
present is a continuation of the past, and thus the use
of these colours may imply a belonging to one political
party or the other.


Colours used during feasts indicate local communality
among the people active in the same band club.
Generally, people belonging to the same community
speak the same language and have, more or less, a
common cultural setup. Maltese band clubs are filled
with people coming from different strata of society.
They do not only meet in the club to discuss things related
to the feast. The club is also a place where they can
feel that they belong, a place which their own relatives
were also a part of. The club may also be a place to
discuss national politics casually. Then, on festa day,
everyone waves the same flag and thus endorses the
same mentality, beliefs and safeguards the band club’s
historical experiences. Therefore, the colour used during
some of the Maltese feast celebrations is contingent,
whose meaning, like language, lies in the particular
context in which band club aficionados experience and
interpret.
Undeniably, colours used during the Maltese festa devour
symbolism. To some, the colours yellow, white and blue
signify biblical meaning, whereas to others the use of
colours such as the red and blue represent a sense of
communal belonging among the locals and serve as
representations of past national politics which ended
in partisan politics. However, this theory stands to be
corrected.

© 2018 – VIDA Magazine