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Malta’s Unique Carnival Cancelled for the First Time Since World War 2

By January 25, 2021 Blog

Malta’s Unique Carnival Cancelled for the First Time Since World War 2

Monday 25 Jan 2021

As we progress through the new year, within just a couple of days, we would normally be looking forward to Carnival. A yearly event in which both adults and children rejoice for some fun and quality time. 

Why do we look forward to Carnival?

Carnival represents five days of fun-filled activities, colours, competitions, events and the traditional “karrijiet”. The festivities of Carnival take place just before Lent, prior to Ash Wednesday, to be exact. Children would typically look forward to Carnival due to the school holidays which accompany it. Families normally make their way to Valletta to enjoy the brimming atmosphere, music and people in costumes.

malta carnival

Photo Credit: Zarb Coaches

Carnival’s background and its relevance today

The celebration of Carnival can be traced back to the 1400s. This event used to be celebrated in a grandeur style by The Knights of St. John where they used to enjoy strength competitions and balls. It is quite remarkable that Carnival managed to survive throughout all these years. Although it has evolved into something a bit different, the activities are enjoyed in full swing, with the main parades taking place in both Valletta and Floriana. It is also quite common that balls and parties are organised in both Malta and Gozo. Such parties would typically consist of attendees being dressed up with face masks and other colourful costumes.

Photo Credit: MyGuideMalta

It is also customary that young people would celebrate Carnival in Nadur. The celebrations taking place in Nadur would normally be a bit different than the ones in Valletta or Floriana. This Carnival is not usually televised and gathers quite some controversy, since religious institutions have protested in the past about how the celebrations were held. The Carnival in Nadur is simply however, the result of a group of people meeting and congregating, not organised by any specific committee.

Thyes, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Carnival in Malta is also synonymous with a particular type of cake that most enjoy. Going for a stroll in Valletta or visiting most confectionaries, you can purchase the traditional ‘Prinjolata’. This is quite a distinguishing treat, including sponge cake, almonds, eggs, coated with meringue and finished off with chocolate and cherries. They would typically be quite big and are sold according to weight.


Prinjolata, Photography Ian Noel Pace

With Carnival being cancelled for the very first time since World War Two, due to the pandemic, we will be holding onto our costumes for the coming year.