Sunday, March 6, 2011

Karnival ta Malta

We were fortunate enough to be in Malta for Carnival (il-Karnival ta' Malta in Maltese). Carnival is a period of festivities before Lent and is most common among Roman Catholic communities. According to one of the people we talked with here, the Carnival festivities in Malta are the 5th largest in the world. Pretty impressive for such a small country. During Carnival, there are parades with colorful floats, dance events, various booths set up and many people dressed in costume.

Valletta (the capital of Malta) has one of the bigger carnival festivals in Malta so we made our way there on the old buses. Upon arrival near Valletta, we noticed lots of very brightly colored floats by the entrance to the city in preparation for the big parade that evening. Our group wandered around the town some, taking in all the sites and interesting costumes and stopped at a restaurant for an early dinner. We decided to try some traditional Maltese food including rabbit. I only tried a small piece, but we all agreed that it was not that different tasting than other meats like turkey or pork. It was interesting to see the whole chest cavity and some of the internal organs though.

After our meal, we watched the parade briefly as it began to pass by. All of the floats (and a number of the costumes as well) were bright neon colors and it was interesting to see, although definitely not what I was expecting initially.

Our group split up and continued exploring around Valletta. We talked for a while with several guys who had an adorable puppy. They were very friendly and offered a diverse perspective -- one was from France, another from Spain, another from England, and the puppy was from Malta. We took turns holding the puppy and listened to their stories and advice about things to see and places to go.

We finished our evening adventures with some more exploration of Valletta including sitting in on part of a Catholic church service, trying some Maltese desserts at a small cafe that was recommended to us, and more observation of the Carnival parade. Overall, a very full evening and an interesting insight into Maltese culture.

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