Good Friday (April 18th) is a day of fasting and repentance. No mass shall be held but instead at 3pm which is recognised worldwide as the time Jesus died, people go to say their prayers, kiss the cross and receive Holy Communion. Immediately after this and just as dusk is falling, the streets become filled with locals and tourists alike to watch one of the largest orchestrated events taking place in almost half the island. Roman Soldiers and Centurions in ornate costumes which are transcended from generations mix with shepherds, Jewish Priests, disciples, country folk and children all dressed in traditional costumes worn in biblical times. They all come out from the main church and walk along kilometers of streets in a long and slow procession accompanied to the sounds of sorrowful music played by the village bandsmen. The sounds of chains chills you to the bone, as hooded, faceless, barefoot penitents dressed in white and often with bloodied ankles drag their feet carrying heavy chains and crosses. Interspersed within all of this pageantry are heavy statues which are carried on shoulders of burly men and youths who have inherited this task from their fathers and jealously guarded through the generations. The clergy on such an event are all carrying their respective duties and making sure that all the statues are safely returned to the church unscratched.
Between all this and Sunday morning, the statues are removed and placed back in their respective niches, the drapes are replaced with fresh white as a sign of glory and in sheer contrast to the previous sorrow, for the Lord has risen and it is a day of celebration. The joyous bells toll, the churches welcome people for the special masses. Some parishes have the statue of the Risen Lord and once again the strong men carry the statue through the streets, only this time they are running with it. The heavy statue going up the hill in Vittoriosa is a sight to see and ensure that you are at a safe distance. This is a day for traditional “Figolli” almond paste and dough complete with a little Easter egg, which is given to the children and enjoyed by the grown- ups alike. It is also another good excuse to have sumptuous lunches, eat lamb and indulge after 40 days of lent.
Yes Malta certainly comes alive during these 15 days and apart from all of this you may also attend choral events, passion plays and listen to baroque music. Food also plays an important role, with fish being one of the most popular. We can only advise you to book in advance early for your guided Good Friday processions, restaurants and other cultural events that take place during this time to avoid disappointment and ensure prominent viewing sites.