As the days get shorter and temperatures begin to drop, you might imagine that life on the small, sun-soaked island of Gozo would start to quieten down after a long hot summer full of fun and activity. Well, think again!
Christmas is celebrated in magnificent style on Gozo with a lively mix of religious and social events held across the island throughout the month of December and well into the new year.
If you’re thinking of getting away for Christmas this year, then consider our lovely island of Gozo for an unforgettable experience. This blog post looks at some of the key elements that make Christmas on Gozo so special.
Christmas lights, Republic Street, Victoria, Gozo. Photo credit: www.gozonews.com
Christmas lights up Gozo
Gozo positively lights up at Christmas. Local people love to decorate their houses inside and out with Christmas decorations and the village streets sparkle with pretty lights. Gozo’s wonderful baroque churches are also made even more beautiful with lights and flowers.
A house in Nadur, Gozo, decorated for Christmas. Photo credit: www.maltaweathersite.com
The Christmas season on Gozo traditionally kicks off in early December with a special event to mark the switching on of the street decorations and the lights decorating a large Christmas tree located in Independence Square, in Gozo’s capital, Victoria. This festive event is usually features children’s choirs and a live band.
Across Gozo you’ll find villages putting on Christmas Fairs. A great place to visit at this time of year is the Gozitano Christmas Village in Xewkija, where you can browse craft and food stalls, taste a range of international wines, and be entertained by a variety of artists, choirs and local bands. Father Christmas has also been known to put in an appearance so this is a must-do event if you are having a family Christmas on Gozo.
Christmas concerts and religious festivals in Gozo
Attending one of the many candlelit carol singing events in Gozo is an uplifting experience and will definitely get you in the mood for Christmas. Village processions of statues of the baby Jesus (bambin Gesu’) are also held in every village and are very popular with children.
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
On 8 December a special event called the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is held in Victoria and Qala. In Victoria, the focus is the parade of a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary around the streets of the capital and her return to St Francis’ Church. In the village of Qala, there is an unusual annual pilgrimage by motorcycles, bicycles and cars, from Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary square to the national shrine dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. You can watch as the local parish priest blesses the motorbike riders and other drivers before they set off.
The Feast of St. Lucy
Every year during the weekend closest to the 13th December, the village of Santa Lucija celebrates the Feast of its patron saint. Saint Lucy is associated with lengthening daylight. Events take place over three days, beginning with a special mass held on the Friday evening followed by a procession with a marching band to the village square.
The Feast of St Lucy celebrated at Santa Lucija, Gozo. Photo credit: www.gozonews.com
Saturday sees a special service involving a relic of the saint and in the evening there is a procession of five girls dressed as St Lucy and wearing crowns of candles around a bonfire lit in the village square. On the Sunday, after the religious service, a statue of St Lucy is carried along the village streets accompanied by a local band.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
If you plan to stay up for midnight mass on Christmas Eve while on Gozo, you don’t necessarily have to go straight to bed. Between 1.30 and 2.30am Christmas Day 2017, a special concert will be held in St George’s Square, Victoria, involving The Gozo Youth Wind Band & Orchestra plus guest pop singers who will perform a medley of favourite Christmas songs and carols all in aid of charity.
Christmas cribs and a live-action nativity on Gozo
A typical Maltese crib ( Presepji). Photo credit: www.maltabulb.com
One of the most distinctive elements of Christmas on Gozo are the displays of nativity cribs, known as presepju, with hand-crafted figurines called pasturi. You’ll see them all over the island – in people’s homes, shops, and churches. Visiting them is a popular activity for visitors and locals alike. Some feature mechanical moving figures but the ultimate nativity is found in the fields surrounding the village of Għajnsielem.
Bethlehem in Għajnsielem, Gozo
Live nativity scenes in Bethlehem in Għajnsielem, Gozo. Photo credit: www.timesofmalta.com
Throughout December, the village of Għajnsielem hosts a unique live nativity scene, complete with a baby Jesus, animals, shepherds and wise men. You can watch villages go about their tasks as they might have done 2,000 years ago. The event attracts thousands of visitors and is a must-see attraction if you are spending Christmas on Gozo. You can read a review of a visit to Bethlehem Għajnsielem here.
Christmas food on Gozo
Food is a vital part of the Christmas celebrations and on Gozo, we are proud of our unique culinary heritage. Traditionally, families will sit down on Christmas day to eat a delicious Maltese dish called timpana, which comprises backed macaroni covered with crusty pastry.
Traditional Maltese timpana – a Christmas treat. Photo credit: www.maltatoday.com
Another local speciality you’ll find at Christmas are honey rings called qagħaq tal-għasel. These are eaten throughout the festive season.
Ask us for help
Baron Holiday Homes is happy to organise car hire, tours of Gozo, and special activities for our guests whatever time of year you visit. Just get in touch and we’ll tell you all you need to know about walks near to your rental property, special events in villages nearby, and other local information.
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