The Curious Traditions and Customs of Malta

The island of Malta, surrounded by the intense blue Mediterranean Sea, is a true tourist paradise. Valletta, its dignified capital, boasts one of the oldest functioning harbours in the world, and the nearby island of Gozo with its pristine beaches is beyond serene.

While most visitors visit the place for a taste some of this idyllic splendour (and rightfully so), they might not be fully aware of the rich traditions and curious customs that have been cherished here for a long time.
Fireworks extravaganza
In 2016, the small village of Żurrieq broke the world record by firing up the largest single firework ball ever beheld by human eyes. It was so epic that the video of the event achieved viral status and put Malta on the map as one of the firework capitals of the world. Throughout the summer, you can experience pyrotechnics displays every weekend so prepare to have your mind blown.
The Maltese affinity for gaming
People in Malta form one of the strongest gaming communities in the world. There are four big casinos located on the island, but that's just one part of the story. The Malta Gaming Authority is one of the most respected gaming control boards issuing gaming licenses. It has so far attracted over 160 gaming providers, including ones who come up with innovative ideas like live roulette, where you can actually chat with a croupier during an online gaming session. However, it’s not all about high technology as Malta is also known for various street games like xixu, the scooter and cart, marbles, or hopscotch.

These mouthwatering Maltese delicacies
Italians might have their gelato, and Turkish their baklava, but the Maltese traditional response is figolli. This almond-flavored iced biscuit is available in most bakeries across the island (especially just before Easter). If you’re looking to something slightly more prosaic, you could opt for Maltese sandwiches stuffed with Mediterranean goodies – fresh tomatoes, olives, capers, onion, and tuna. Add a sprinkle of local olive oil, a few chunks of coarse sea salt, and a glass of ice-cold local white wine, and you’re in heaven. Finally, let’s not forget about pastizzi, savory pastries filled with ricotta or mushy peas that are popular among the locals.
Don’t miss the spectacular carnival in Valletta
The carnival celebrations are truly something to behold, especially in the capital of Malta. Suddenly, streets become filled with costumed characters, processions of floats, boisterous dance and music, and all kinds of skilled performers. And if you’re looking for something truly unique, check the celebrations in Nadur and Gozo that famously take on a more macabre mood. The event lasts only from February 12th to February 16th so you would need to be quite intentional about being there in time to experience it.
The quaint village festas
If you’re into folklore and age-old traditions, you should step out of the well-treaded path and visit one of the small villages around the coast. Each one of them has its patron saint who is celebrated during fantastic local parties. The tradition started over five hundred years ago, under the reign of the Knights of St. John, and continues to this day. The main event around the island is the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul which reaches the highest intensity in the area of Buskett, where you can admire awesome food displays and listen to għana - slow rhythm music that will pull at your heart’s strings.
Curious superstitions of Malta
When, after a long and eventful summer, the winter finds its way to the shores of Malta, it starts to rain a lot. To stop the downpour, locals throw a piece of Saint Anthony’s bread onto the side of the road. However, the trick only works if you kiss it beforehand. When walking around towns and villages, you may also witness sets of horns placed above the doorways. These are for turning around bad luck. Finally, to be absolutely sure there are not evil forces within the household, the Maltese burn small olive branches – a process that’s often quite lengthy and ends with the popular saying ‘the last one out burns the leaves’.