It’s only a third the size of Malta, its picturesque scenery embraces some of the most remarkable landmarks on the islands and its considerably rural character allows many to a take a breather from their hectic routines. Gozo, island of Calypso, has long been known as the island that has managed to preserve an authentic way of life, long forgotten in many parts of mainland Malta. With its majestic churches, surrounded by agricultural land, and the little towns that make every visitor feel at home, Gozo is definitely the excellent place where to celebrate a sacred tradition that goes back thousands of years.
Classical Christmas Concerts
Christmas Concerts might give the impression that they are a timeworn custom and a thing of the elderly, but when executed properly, they tap into a world that is long forgotten by many. Moreover, when they are backed up by the modesty of a humble village and its people, they become even better. The Grand Christmas Concert (December 23rd) and the Christmas Recital (December 24th), held in the Sannat Parish church and St George’s Square, in Victoria, respectively, will be presenting a festival music repertorie that welcomes Baby Jesus with sweet, classical, carols. Other Christmas concerts to look out for include the two concerts held at the Nadur Basilica and Saint George’s square on Christmas Day and the two annual concerts held in Xagħra, San Lawrenz and Victoria.
Christmas Eve Pageants and Processions
The procession with the small statue of baby Jesus very often takes place on Christmas Eve and commences from the Boy’s MUSEUM premises. The people of Nadur add their own touch to the event by featuring several personalities dressed in biblical costumes, very much like the Good Friday Procession kinf of thing.
Who sets up a whole crib at home nowadays? I mean, the one with the clay statuettes, dressed in the Maltese ħorġa and qorq? Many of the Gozistans still do though, and this is why; the island is home to real, traditionally Maltese, craftsmanship. Its natural inclination towards this craftsmanship has given us some of the most renowned traditional items we still boast of today, including lace making, honey, and peppered Gozo Cheeslets. However, during the festive season, the real Gozitan, artistic soul lies in crib making. Ranging from ordinary stone and clay cribs to mechanical ones, Gozitan cribs are surely a sight to behold, especially when displayed in windowsills, lighting the narrow, cobbled streets of the tiny villages. Keep an eye out for the largest concentration of cribs in Xagħra. Others can be admired in Victoria, Għarb, Żebbuġ, Qala, Għajnsielem, Nadur and Marsalforn.
Although the true craftsmanship of a Gozitan is well evident in the skill and technique required to come up with a typical crib, the people of Gozo have managed to take the crib concept to a higher level by their two well-known live cribs, namely Presepju Suq u Mexxi and Betlehem f’Għajnsielem. With the turn of the second millenium, a group of volunteers from Xagħra took on the challenge of introducing the very first live crib on the island, which since 2015 has now been modified to introduce once again an innovative concept never heard of in Malta; travelling along a nativity trail by means of a car. Betlehem f’Għajnsielem certainly needs no introduction, as it has been a highly succesful experiment by the people of Għajnsielem to regenerate an abandoned area into a reproduction of Bethlehem of 2000 years ago. In Praesepio, another live crib happening in Nadur, runs till Sunday 4th.
New Year’s Eve in the City
Despite its quite solemn way of life, Gozo is an island that is constantly renovated in line with the latest trends. Featuring Novel, Upper Lip, Strait Ahead, Dj Brooks, Dj Matt & Geez and special guest Desi Campbell, Independence Square and St George’s Square are set to turn into the one entertainment hub you should not miss this New Year’s Eve. Happening outdoors, beneath a sky full of stars and the impressive, recently renovated walls of Ċittadella, New Year’s Eve in the City is the ideal backdrop in which to see the seconds tick down to 2017.
© 2016 – VIDA Magazine – Clifford Jo Zahra