Saturday, February 21, 2009

Traditional games in Vittoriosa tomorrow

If you would like to try your hand at a few traditional Maltese games, pop down to Vittoriosa on Sunday and test your skill at passju or the precision of your aim at boċċi, ballun stop, brilli or xixu.

The majority of games were at the height of their popularity during the British period when many families were unable to afford the luxury of toys and the streets were still generally free of traffic.

Those attending can choose to chase a rival team in gwerra Franċiża, do their best to grab a handkerchief before their opponent during il-logħba tal-maktur, try their utmost not to be caught in ħarba or sprint after the bee in iż-żunżana ddur id-dur.

Those who prefer something less physically demanding may opt for ħaġa moħġaġa or bum bum il-bieb, while others may decide to attend a kite-making workshop and fly their self-made manoċċa, as it is known in Żejtun, off St John's Cavalier.

Particular games also mirrored the socio-political context of the time and represented what was expected from children in their future as adults.

Gwerra Franċiża and ħarba for instance strongly reflected the experience of war, with the aim of the games being the rescue and capture of prisoners. While boys were often involved in play that gave them the chance to show physical prowess, girls preferred to participate in games that suggested their future station in life.

One such game was bum bum il-bieb, which consisted in choosing a beautiful damsel to be the wife of an itinerant Knight looking for love - the dream of many a young lady.

Held on the streets of the village and within the Inquisitor's Palace, this festival aims to engage children and parents alike in the revival of games which for decades were played on the streets of the islands' towns and villages.

The local council and Heritage Malta (National Museum of Ethnography - Inquisitor's Palace) teamed up to organise this festival which will take place between 1 and 6 p.m.

Buses 1 and 2 from Valletta Gate (47c) or take a water taxi from Custom House or the Fisheries on the Grand Harbour side of Valletta.

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