Holy Week in Valletta – a 400-year-old tradition still celebrated today
Probably no one celebrates the Holy Week with more ceremony and reverence than the capital city of Valletta. This 400-year-old tradition is still very much alive today as it was way back when the Knights of Malta built the city and commissioned many of the statues from some of the most prestigious bottegas in Europe.
Through the narrow streets, on Good Friday, long lines of caped figures can be seen walking in twos, behind the movable floats depicting life-like figures of Christ, the Virgin Mary and scenes of the Passion. Musicians and drummers accompany the floats, adding drama to the procession.
As they advance at a funeral pace, they stop to rest at intervals due to the heavy burden of the statues, some of which are made of solid carved wood.
Holy Week, or Il-Gimgha l-Kbira, as it is known here, has come to express not only religious devotion, but also to symbolise the very identity and culture of many Maltese, even those who are more secularly minded. For the non-religious, it is an experience worth savouring and that will be treasured for a long time.