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A Maltese Christmas Tradition on Christmas Eve

Description

The procession of Baby Jesus is commonly held on Christmas Eve in the quiet streets of Malta and Gozo. In towns and villages that have a Soċjetà tal-MUSEUM, this procession is also held in association with the organisation.

Also known as the demonstration of Baby Jesus, this procession was highly regarded by San Ġorġ Preca (1880-1962). In fact, it was he who started this tradition in December of 1921. Christmas held a special place in San Ġorġ Preca’s heart. However, he had no intention of instituting a procession of this large of a scale. His only intention was to instil the Christian spirit by commemorating the birth of Baby Jesus. However, the procession became so popular that it is still being held to this day.

The statue of baby Jesus in his manger, presented on a white linen cloth, is carried by young children and teens along the dimly lit streets of towns and villages while singing Christmas hymns, generally in Maltese. A popular Maltese Christmas carol is Ninni la Tibkix Iżjed. Some come along carrying lanterns used by altar boys while others carry olive branches during the procession.

Typically, after the procession, which usually makes its stop at the town/village square, the Christmas program goes on with the singing of more Christmas carols and hymns, the Boy’s Sermon (il-Priedka tat-Tifel), more poems and Christmas dialogues and/or re-enactments.

It is also a common tradition to hold a raffle at this event, with the prize being a Christmas traditional crib, while a honey ring (qagħqa tal-għasel) is given to all attendees on their way out, at the end of the evening.

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