Many people buy their commercial figurines ready-made for their Maltese Christmas crib with little thought as to who and how they were made. When making a Christmas crib, the size and shape of the pasturi are actually the first consideration when thinking about the structure of the crib. So how are these made?
The origin of the Maltese crib dates to the 17th century, but it successfully took off after World War II. From there on, the Christmas traditional crib became one of the main attractions on the island during the festive season. One can set up a traditional or a contemporary crib, whichever suits his/her fancy. You can even order a tailor-made crib which are constructed by heavily dedicated individuals.
The materials used included conventional material such as papier-mache and gagazza (rustic stone) but also during today’s modern age, this has developed into using synthetic materials such as polystyrene.
The pasturi are statuettes that set the scene in the Maltese Christmas crib. Figurines from different walks of life depict the country’s traditions. Typical Maltese cribs include l-għaġeb, who is the happy man standing in complete awe in front of the grotto with his arms raised, thanking the heavens for the Christmas miracle.
Another interesting pastur is the ix-xabbatur who is a curious character peeping into the cave to get the first look at Baby Jesus. Other characters including the sleeping figurine and the singing musicians playing the bagpipes and tambourine. Typical pasturi also include the nativity scene, angels, and shepherds.
The Maltese crib, together with its pasturi, hold a very special place in Malta’s heart. In fact, some might even go as far as saying that, there is no Christmas without a crib in Malta.