Saturday, August 22, 2009

Summer festa


Anyone who's in Malta at this time of year will come across whole villages dressed to kill with elaborate banners and festoons, colourful lights and lovingly painted lifesize models of saints and angels that look down from pedestals made to look like marble. I have always admired the amount of effort, money and craftsmanship that goes into the setting this all up even though it only lasts all of three days to a week. Then again, when you think about it, the same effort goes into the amazing costumes and floats of the carnival in Rio and the massive glossy statues in Valenzia's great bonfire feast in March (The Fallas).

This year I decided to experience the evening festivities and the procession with the patron saint for myself. I had heard of the loyalty and devotion to the saint and to the statue's beauty itself. I must admit to having always found this a bit too close to idolatry for comfort. On one pleasant summer night in a small village in the south of Malta I experienced first hand the saint/statue's loyal following. As the statue was carried shoulder high throughout the streets, a group of supporters walked backwards before the statue, facing it and shouting out sweet little poems dedicated to the saint/statue and clapping until they're blue in the face and hoarse.


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