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GasanMamo Insurance

Done some Christmas shopping yet? How about some new Christmas decorations this Christmas season?

In today’s post, we are going to discuss the 5 Christmas decorations commonly used in Malta along with some history about them.

Handmade Glass Baubles

Unique, handmade baubles are produced in a traditional ancient technique dated back from the last century BC by glassmakers which are made from glass molten and mouth blown using blowpipes.

One, two or a combination of colours to the Christmas baubles will add colours and patterns to your Christmas tree or to your kitchen window. You can choose from a ready-made package set or choose your own colours and patterns to match your home style and colour scheme.

You can also choose from a variety of shapes, including round, square, diamond, triangle amongst other figures making them an ideal Maltese home decorations as a gift for your loved ones or for yourself!

The Christmas Crib

Crib building in Malta is said to have initiated in the first half of the 17th Century, mostly created by monks and introduced by Italian nobleman.

In Mdina, one of the ‘presepju’ as known by the Maltese, is displayed at St Peter’s Monastery in Mdina which dates back to 1670.

More recently cribs, started to be created by various people in various shapes and materials used. The cribs in Malta reflects the Mediterranean and maltese context and the most materials used are limestone, which reflects the Maltese landscape and coal residue, which is also referred to ‘gagazza’.

Due to the fact that less coal furnaces were used in modern lifestyles, the ‘gagazza’ material became more inaccessible and therefore crib builders turned to the more modern material ‘papier mache’.

Papier mache was an ideal alternative since it was more solid and light and gave the possibility for the artist to paint and add other materials onto it to create a more refine product.

An interesting feature of the Crib are the small statues or ‘pasturi’ as known by the locals, of baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Some Cribs include an extensive number of ‘pasturi’ to include the 3 Kings, famers, animals and village personas such as the baker, and village woman.

Most ‘pasturi’ are made of clay and handpainted to create details of the face and texture of the clothing. ‘Pasturi’ vary in size and can be as large as high as half metre which are usually displayed in bigger venues.

Canary Seeds (Gulbiena)

An old tradition that is still present to date is the sowing of canary seeds, known as ‘gulbiena’ by the Maltese, on clots of cotton or cotton wool in flat pans or containers around three to four weeks before Christmas.

‘Gulbiena’ is left in a dark room or cupboard since it grows into a shimmery white colour when grown in dark places. They are then placed near large figures of baby Jesus or placed along the front façade of the crib.

Large Figures Of Baby Jesus (Maxtura)

Large figures of baby Jesus in a cradle, also known as ‘maxtura’ in Maltese, are normally displayed in windows and balconies for walkers by to see or in various spaces indoors.

They are most often decorated by ‘gulbiena’ and sometimes also decorated with candles, coloured lights and a warm coloured star on top of the statue.

Christmas Cards, ‘Il – Kartolini’

The tradition of the Christmas cards, known as ‘il-kartolini tal-Milied’ was imported from Germany in the 19th century and are usually given together with a Christmas present which are commonly exchanged between friends, colleagues and family members on Christmas eve.

There are some more traditional Kartolini which are based on religious pictures of Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, however there are also those which display figures such as Father Christmas, the elves and reindeers.

Some Maltese homes display their ‘kartolini’ received from their family members and friends, on their cupboards or hang them on a string across rooms or along walls.

Christmas in Malta is a very prominent festive season, where homes, Churches, village streets are decorated with multi-coloured lights, known as ‘festuni’, shop windows are displayed with Christmas decorations and a large variety of toys and presents for Children.

Also, it is common to see large Christmas trees, sigra tal Milied displayed in public areas, shopping areas, and smaller ones are used by the maltese inside their homes which are commonly decorated according to the colour scheme of their homes.