Holy Week is the week before the great festival of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. The celebration of Holy Week in Gozo is one of the busiest events in Malta’s religious calendar. It is an entire week of street processions, tableaux, band marches, pageants, bell ringing, displays, passion plays and statue carrying. Everyone joins in the festivities, locals and foreigners alike. The Holy Week in Gozo is perfect for anyone looking for a short escape into the rich cultural life of Malta. Some of the most important and popular events celebrated during the Holy Week and Easter are listed here.
Maundy Thursday (day before Good Friday)
On this day the people commemorate the Last Supper and the mourning begins. On this day, lots of parishes recreate the story of the Last Supper and/ or the entire Easter story in the form of plays and presentations. Traditionally, people visit these parishes as they tour around the islands of the Altars of Repose, which is generally done in seven different churches or chapels. These Altars are beautifully and elaborately decorated for the occasion with white flowers. Another unique aspect is that many parishes replace their bells with a Ċuqqlajta, a wooden gong that sounds rather like a big football rattle.
As it is the official mourning day, there is no mass held on Good Friday. However, some people do go to kiss the cross at the time of Christ’s death (3pm) and to make personal prayers. The day is silent and no bells toll. However, Xaghra is one of the biggest processions in Gozo that takes place on this day. And by big, we mean spectacularly big with casts of hundreds of people performing plays. It is a huge procession which statues depicting the Passion of Jesus as well as various biblical figures in the crowd. The Victory Band of Xaghra follows along playing funeral marches. Over time Xaghra has become one of the biggest tourist attractions.
Easter Sunday is a total contrast to the Holy Week. It is a day of celebration of the Risen Christ and Gozo celebrates this day almost lavishly. The bells toll again as the churches open up for special mass. Families visit each other and enjoy lavish lunches. Gozo, indeed all of Malta, has its very own special Easter cake – Figolli- which is often used as gifts on this day. This day is loud and cheerful as streets are decorated with stalls and extravagantly lit. There are street parties, processions and bands and confetti throwing.
Gozo is a small island with a breathtaking scenery and unique charm that you can discover in a day through Quad Bike tours of the island. Taking these tours during the Holy Week is even better because then you can discover the traditions of this week yourself.
All in all, the Holy Week in Gozo, followed by the Easter Sunday, is an unforgettable experience for everyone involved, whether they are performers or just spectators.