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Malta Carnival
CARNAVAL.com salutes the Carnival like genius of a Maltese cultural icon.
CARAVAGGIO, MICHELANGELO AMERIGHI (or MERIGI) DA (1569-1609), Italian painter, was born in the village of Caravaggio, in Lombardy, fromDownload which he received his name. He was originally a mason's laborer, but his powerful genius directed him to painting, at which he worked with immense energy and amazing fDownloadorce.
He despised every sort of idealism whether noble or emasculate, became the head of the Naturalisti (unmodified imitators of ordinary nature) in painting, and adopted a style of potent contrasts of light and shadow, laid on with a sort of fury.
Famous for a fierce temper which led the artist to commit a homicide in a gambling quarrel at Rome. To avoid the consequences of his crime he fled to Naples and to Malta, where he was imprisoned for another attempt to avenge a quarrel. Escaping to Sicily, he was attacked by a party sent in pursuit of him, and severely wounded. Being pardoned, he set out for Rome; but having been arrested by mistake before his arrival, and afterwards released, and left to shift for himself in excessive heat and suffering from wounds and hardships he died of fever on the beach at Pontercole in 1609.

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HOST of the SILVER JUBILEE of the world's Leading Carnival organizaton,
NADUR, GOZO is the 2005 Carnival capital for the world's largest organization devoted to the preservation and promotion of people's festival traditions: the Federation of European Carnival Cities (FECC)
Tal-Banda at the 2004 Carnival City Convention
Premier Malta Float Builder at 2004 Congress in Pernik-Bulgaria

The Catholic Church initially repudiated the pagan festivals of the primitive peoples but as it found it impossible to eliminate them, it incorporated them to the Julian - Gregorian calendar adapted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. When another two months (July and August) were added in homage to the Roman emperors, Carnival dates, which should have coincided with December 16 to 18, were moved forward.

Carnival dates for Christians were fixed according to the Catholic Easter. The Catholic Easter Sunday varies between March 22 and April 25 and Carnival Sunday always occurs seven Sundays before Easter, More on dating Carnival






The Carnival of 1560:
A pre-Lenten Carnival for many centuries. The general jollification was probably the Carnival of 1560 when a massed Christian armada was harbour-bound in Malta before sailing to Tripoli.
"Carnival is the oldest festival in the world.
Some authors even suggest it originated around 10,000 BC, from the seasonal farming rituals of the ancient peoples. They would greet the return of the spring solstice with singing and dancing. At the festivals to the Egyptian goddess Isis and the bull Apis, and the Teuton goddess Herta, there were already signs of such behaviour. These practices were reinforced in the Roman and Greek bacchanalia, saturnalia and lupercalia feasts."

 History of Carnival in Malta by maltafestivals.com

Historically, this entertainment in Malta can be traced back to the early 1400s. Encouraged by the Grand Masters of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (1530-1798)Despite attempts to put a stop to the increasing anarchy of the festivities, Maltese carnival developed a host of games and events, which became part and parcel of carnival tradition by the 19th century. Challenge Competitions tested the strength and prowess of the young local men, while the nobility adopted a taste for carnival balls - the most renown being held in the splendour of the Manoel Theatre in the old Valletta. The ball seems to have developed later into the popular national dance, the Maltija. Carnival declined in the 19th century but managed to live through the period of British rule (1800-1964) and has thus been handed down in an almost unbroken tradition of about six centuries.

The "city built for gentlemen" turns into the City of Fools for the carnival days.
There has bee a great parading tradition since at least the middle of the 18th century when it would compete with a rival Carnival Parade in Floriana. Among the many embellishments added by the Knights of Malta was extra Carnivals called "Mad Carnivals" for the many special occasions. Before the Second World War, the floats often represented local political figures. In the 1920s and 30s the caricature of political figures often led to tenseDownload situations that induced the Government to ban such customs from future editions of Carnival. This ban has continued, Prof Joe Friggieri, of the National Folklore Commission believes political satire is a necessary part of the Carnival whereas Francis Zammit Dimech does not agree the law is anachronistic: “We want carnival to be an occasion of celebration for everybody. Political satire offers the possibility for people to be irked or feel annoyed in what should be a festive event.” [more]

Prizes are awarded for the best artistic dances, costumes, floats and grotesque masks.  The Maltese Carnival does not, however, consist only of these floats. Throughout the five days of merrymaking, numerous activities take place throughout the island.

Freedom Square Valletta:
The hub of the organised activities is in Malta's capital Valletta, in Freedom Square, where a stage and seating are specially erected for open-air performances of dance, drama and song.

Parata The festival is officially opened with the Parata, an ancient sword dance commemorating Malta's victory over the Turks in 1565. Nowadays it is mainly children who participate in the dance. The Parata is of special significance in the history of the Maltese Carnival. Under the Knights it was taken very seriously, and the Maltese eagerly awaited its performance because the rule was "no Parata, no Carnival".

Kukkanja: Grand Master Zondadari introduced the traditional game Kukkanja (Cockaigne) in 1721. A crowd assembled in the Palace Square on Carnival Monday and at a given signal attacked the hams, sausages and live animals tied to the long beams fixed against the guard house and covered over with branches of trees in leaf. The provisions became the property of those who, having seized them, were able to carry them off i


Prinjolata: Maltese carnival cake. Around carnival time, this enormous white dome of sponge, made out of a special seed, almonds, cake, eggs etc. then coated with beaten meringue and chocolate is poured over it and it is also decorated with cherries.It will be displayed with pride  on bars in cafes and patisseries

Perlini are typical sweets made for Carnival. They are  almonds coated in sugar of various colors and featured by street vendorsn safety through the crowd.


the celebration called Il-Karnival
in maltese

GOZO Carnival  
In Gozo, Independence Square is the main Square in Victoria (Rabat) and the scene of the largest scheduledDownload events. Nadur, the capital of spontaneous Carnival and the second largest City on Gozo also holds an organized carnival in counterpoint to its impulsive famous five nights of masks festival of masks. These two squares provide the venue the all-important "judging" of the competition floats and costumes.Download

Victoria also holds competitions at the Gozo Sports Complex. On Carnival Monday there will be dance exhibitions at St. Augustine Square, Vajringa Street, Palm Street, Republic Street.  First officially organised in Gozo in the year 1952 with floats and parades, Victoria's main activities take place in It-Tokk,

 Nadur Carnival Competitions occur on Carnival Sunday with entertainment by various local groups all organized by the Nadur Local Council St. Peter & St. Paul Square, Nadur  This is when the Gozitan spirit to distinguish itself from its neighbors can reach full flower.

Visit Nadur to learn about their other great annual festa
I-Imnarja (St Peter & Paul), June 29

Xewkija also has a smaller version of the spontaneous Carnival and a program of Sunday Carnival events

Sunday Carnival in Nadur  at www.june29th.com The Organized Carnival of Nadur - by Peter Paul Buttigieg


NADUR Spontaneous Carnival


the main road of Nadur is literally packed with thousands of people who enjoy the revelry which goes on into the early hours of the morning during the Carnival days as everyone can relate to a sincere effort to
invert the established order. Out of the ordinary confusion is sought as horns, bells, banging, whistling, and basically anything that creates a din, filling the air with a buzz that competes with live music playing in venues along the street. The roots of this vibrant Carnival lies in the need to give expression to the repressions simmering within, an opportunity for protest against the ruling classes and a rare opportunity in Malta to ridicule unpopular governance including priests and politicians.
"unique for the spontaneity and creativity of all those taking part. Some even call this as Grotesque or Macabre Carnival. "
Nadur Carnival - UNIQUE! by Peter Paul Buttigieg B.A. Paper read during the 21st Convention of the Federation of European Carnival Cities (FECC) in St. Petersburg, Russia, f
"disguised crowds overrun the streets; the costumes consisting mainly of haphazard, coarse guises made of sack, sheets, wigs and incongruous make-up. The local participants are often silent for most of the time in order to make sure that they remain unidentified - so much so that is sometimes referred to as the Silent Carnival." gozo.gov.mt/
" It is doubtful whether any organised activity can prove to be such an attraction and crowd puller, for as long as there is hypocrisy in life - preaching one  thing and practicing another - it probably cannot be expounded more spontaneously if not so sincerely. 

 Nadur, revels in defying the official definition of what is acceptable Carnival activity such as the televised parades held in Valletta and Victoria. The church has been known to protest but alas there is no organising committee to fault for this collective expression of the unconscious given a moment outside of time to express itself. This is the five day space where the repressions of the other 360 days of the year are allowed to vent, a rare yet healthy public catharsis.

Expect to see peculiar cross-dressing,  and then even more outlandish costumes of hilarious transvestites. Also there's plenty of potty humor where performers may sit on toilets pretending to be doing their business unaware that they are being watched. Many revellers perform skits assisted by a wide variety of props or mini floats. It's both somber and weird, as the imagination becomes real.

Nadur Carnival bands are also a special aspect, they use an obscure indigenous instrument called the zavzava – to produce tribal merry music along with tambourines, bongos, clarinet and whatever else. The Nadur Carnival,

This is not a pretty masquerade, but participation is encouraged so do bring a mask if you want to be part of a unique experience and feel the magic of removing your public mask if only for just a few hours. You'll be helped along by the sea night air which carries the rhythms of untold ancient mysteries.

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Nadur Carnival has become famous for this term

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