Festas, jubilant celebrations in the name of the patron saint of the village, are a buzzing time for those who have the culture and traditions of our islands at heart. They adorn the facades of houses and band clubs with colourful decorations and sometimes breathe life into the most remote areas of our villages, otherwise forgotten during the rest of the year. They are the ideal occasion to reunite with long-forgotten friends, or family members, and probably the number one attraction for tourists in summer. However, just like anything else, festas are not held in deep affection by everybody. At times, they can be rather noisy, drive hordes of people to the area, and to the dismay of the residents, they cause major inconveniences.
This guide on how to survive the Maltese festa is for you, non-festa lover.
Move the Car in Urgent Circumstances Only
Whilst festa lovers have probably got their evenings sorted, for you it’s a different thing altogether. Your first instincts as a non-festa lover would probably be to get away from it all, and that’s understandable. But if you do not own a garage, which would otherwise guarantee 2 parking spots, one inside and the other in front of the garage door, do pay attention to when and at what time you will be abandoning your parking spot. Preferably you come back late in the afternoon, or else leave early in the evening and get back only late at night, when people from the neighbouring villages would be heading back home, freeing a couple of parking spots here and there.
Festas might not be your number-one go-to event, but food’s not something one can easily turn his back on, and festa food is simply divine. If you’re a health freak, a quick takeout from one of the kiosks scattered around the village square will make you long for longer festas, where cooking gets suspended and take out is a couple of metres away at a ridiculously cheap price. Besides, candy floss, nougat, and American doughnuts are a festa sweet speciality.
Watch your Dress Code
Same as politics, colours play a major role here. They symbolise allegiance to a club, and as a non-festa lover, on Sunday morning you wouldn’t probably care much about being strategic with the colour scheme of your clothing. Pay attention though; going round the village wearing green, when that colour actually symbolises the opposing club and saint, will not go down well with your neighbours who are staunch supporters of Tal-Aħmar. On the other hand, if you want to convince your neighbour into believing that you can be their best festa companion, wearing the colour they love is sure to spark new friendships never thought possible in the first place!
Make the Best of the Free Entertainment
Love it or hate it, the village festa makes way for a free, open-air entertainment hub. The bustling restaurants and bars, the fireworks, and the kiosks all over the place make it ideal for you to invite friends and family over. Make the best of the ongoing fireworks visible from your rooftop, and get a quick takeout from one of the kiosks without worrying that the delivery will arrive late, or that the food will be delivered chewy or soggy, because of the many delivery requests to the area, or the diversions, due to the activities held in the different areas of the village.
Let that Nostalgia Kick In
How often do you get to wake up by the chimes of bells in the morning or the birds tweeting? With the roads bustling from the early hours in the morning, people running errands and temperatures rising beyond desirable levels, chances are that you will miss the sound of the church bells altogether. With the roads closed and more people probably on leave, this is your opportunity to revisit the past, the age of simpler times when life was way calmer, and the church played a major role in day-to-day life.
Watch Out for the Panegyric
Not being a festa lover doesn’t constitute a reason enough to skip mass. Festa mornings bring with them a lengthy liturgical celebration, sometimes pontifical too, a chunk of it owing to the lengthy sermon by the celebrant, known as the panegyric; usually narrating the life of the celebrated saint. You don’t want to get caught up in that but don’t know what time exactly it will be held? Go on Saturday, and if you really wish to go for a Sunday mass, opt for one in a neighbouring village, one that is not celebrating a festa altogether!
2017 – VIDA Magazine – Clifford Jo Zahra