The most anticipated event of the year, Il-Karnival Ta’ Malta 2023 is underway!
What is Carnival?
Carnival is a festivity that takes place in many Roman Catholic countries in the last days before the Lenten period. Malta Carnival runs for five days straight, this year it kicked off on Friday and it will run right through to Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday which is the official start of lent.
The origins of the word Carnival are uncertain, but it can possibly be traced back to Medieval Times derived from the Latin words, carnem levare or carnelevarium, which means to take away or remove meat. The devout who practice Lent make sacrifices, often giving up meat, chocolate etc for the whole period which lasts a long 40 days.
Therefor Carnival is traditionally seen as the last chance to enjoy what you are about to give up.
The origins of Carnival
Carnival in Malta is both cultural and of course religious, and its origins date back over five centuries! The Knights of St. John first pioneered carnival in Malta. In 1535, five years after the arrival of the Knights, during the reign or Grand Master Piero de Ponte, the first carnival took place in Birgu (Vittoriosa) in Malta. A number of the knights played games and displayed their skills in various pageants and tournaments.
As the years have passed a more artistic carnival has evolved, but many of the ancient traditions happily still remain, examples of those being carnival balls and strong man competitions.
Carnival is basically five days of complete and utter madness! If you are lucky enough to visit Malta or Gozo during Carnival its magical!
Think of an incredible fantasyland with a kaleidoscope of colours, staggering floats which have even the minutest of detail, mesmerising costumes, some traditional, some absolutely crazy! As prizes are awarded for the best artistic dances, costumes, floats and grotesque masks, expect an extravaganza!
The streets truly do come alive with the sound of merriment and music with lots of entertainment taking place alongside the processions.
Organised by Festivals Malta, the largest of the carnival celebrations takes place in and around the capital city Valletta.
However there are also several "spontaneous" carnivals in many villages across the islands.
The Nadur Carnival in Gozo is notably darker and has more risqué themes, with scantily clad revellers and a number of scarier costumes and floats.
Carnival sweet treats
No surprise that the food which can be found at Carnival is particularly aimed at those who will be abstaining from sugar during Lent.
You will find traditiononal delicious perlini (multi-coloured, sugar-coated almonds) and prinjolata, one of my absolute favourites, which is an assembly of sponge cake, biscuits, almonds and citrus fruits, topped with oodles of cream and pine nuts.
Malta Carnival Program of Events 2023
As you can see some of the Carnival events are ticketed - you can purchase access here
All that's left to say now, is enjoy my lovelies!
Images courtesy of Times of Malta, Carnival Malta and Festivals Malta, Fontanella Tea Garden