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Easter Around the World

    Easter in Malta

    In Malta Easter has been the focus of great festivities, in the churches which have been beautifully decorated, as well as the family observances.

    Malta once held a Carnival celebration, which was held just before Lent. Nowadays the Carnival is held after Easter in May to coincide with the May Day Labor festival.

    The Maltese people visit seven churches to pay their respects and offer devotion on Maundy or Holy Thursday. These processions to churches are led by a person carrying a cross. The Church bells are not rung from this day until Easter Saturday.

    On Good Friday a priest delivers a sermon based on the life of Christ including the first Holy Week. The sermon has a choir singing appropriate hymns which are intertwined between various pauses in the sermon. After the service a procession of 8 statues, one of which depicts Christ on the Cross, is lead through the church out around the parish and back to the church. The procession is followed by a band playing funeral marches.

    On Easter Saturday all the church bells ring. People at about 11pm begin to gather at the church to take part in the Easter Vigil. The priest intones the joyful hymn "Exultet" - "Let us rejoice the Lord is risen". People exchange greetings as each person carries a candle lit from the Paschal candle.

    On Sunday morning a procession is held in which the statue of Christ carries a flag, and a band plays joyful marches. This procession is followed by a family get-together for a large lunchtime meal of spring lamb, baked potatoes and local vegetables. After dinner, a figolla is given to each child. This is a baked confectionery pastry, cut in the shapes of Christian symbols. Nowadays chocolate eggs or rabbits are also given to children.

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