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Santa Marija in Malta: Faith, Food and Festivities

Malta and its islands are renowned for their vibrant culture and rich history, and one of the most important events in the Maltese calendar is the Feast of Santa Marija. Celebrated every year on August 15th, this festival holds huge significance for the Maltese people, and communities across the country hold fireworks displays, processions, parties and, of course, feasts to mark the occasion. Read on to learn more about the origins of the festival, and hear our recommendations of how and where to celebrate. It's a chance to connect with the local community, understand their traditions, and appreciate the festive spirit that runs through the heart of Malta.

Understanding the Feast of Santa Marija

Also known as the Feast of the Assumption, Santa Marija is first and foremost a religious event. Observed by Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox believers, it commemorates the "assumption" of the Virgin Mary's body and soul into heaven. In Malta, the day holds even more importance as it marks the peak of the festa season, where villages across the country hold parties and processions to celebrate their patron saint – a tradition that dates all the way back to the 16th century. Today, Santa Marija is celebrated in seven different municipalities across the islands of Malta and Gozo.

Santa Marija in Mqabba: A Centuries-Old Tradition

One of the most famous Santa Marija celebrations takes place in the ancient town of Mqabba. The festivities here span from July 30th to August 22nd, with the biggest celebrations occurring from the 9th to the 15th. The streets come alive with daily marching bands, concerts and street food stands, and every night the sky lights up with breathtaking fireworks a staple of any Maltese festa.

Visiting Malta during Santa Marija? Immerse yourself in tradition with our recommendations:

  1. Explore Mosta: Discover the Rotunda, a magnificent church hosting high mass and offering panoramic views from its bell tower.

  2. Visit Mdina: Learn about Malta's medieval history by exploring the ancient walled city and its historic sites.

  3. Venture to Rabat: Uncover Roman catacombs, churches, and palaces while soaking in the rich heritage of this town.

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