Friday 26 December 2014

Happy Christmas from Europe

The customs of Europe for Christmas vary greatly. In Malta, there is virtually no penitential Advent, so Baby Jesus is in the manger for almost the entire four weeks before Christmas, and carols are sung at Mass.

The real celebrations take place in the families, but families go out for Christmas as well. Some restaurants are closed but many are open.  The Mediterranean custom of being in community, and Malta being a country which celebrates feasts outside, leads to this groupy type of eating out.

I, as a single person not part of any extended family, am grateful for this open-air custom of being out on Christmas Day, and today, December 26th. Boxing Day is not celebrated here and the buses are running on the normal daily schedules.

One thing I miss, despite the plenitude of food and good wishes, is the sense of a solemnity. I attended the supposedly most solemn high Mass on the island and some people were so dressed down I was surprised. The majority were not, were in their Christmas best. But, the Co-Cathedral was not full, despite the superb choir and the fact that the Apostolic Administrator was the celebrant. We all received a pontifical blessing, which was nice.

But, I wonder if the type of high liturgy, which one experiences in Rome, or London, or even Dublin, is possible here on this relaxed island.

Later today, I am going to Gozo, for a bit, and the natives take Nativity Cribs, or Creches, seriously, as do the Maltese. This custom was imported from Naples, apparently.

Merry Christmas from Malta, and it is now 16 degrees C.

Ciao, ciao from one member of the Guild.

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