Christmas in Malta – Cribs!

Mdina glass Christmas tree.

The Maltese like Christmas, I think it’s fair to say.  With street decorations and lights all over the place, it’s not so different from Britain or Ireland, except for the rather significant fact that here blue skies in December are the norm and there is no danger of getting stuck in a snowdrift on your way to work.

A popular feature of the Maltese Christmas experience is the Cribs phenomenon.  Now calm down youngsters, I’m not talking about your MTV nonsense, but a crib  in which you might find representations of baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph in familiar poses.  It’s quite the thing to wander round and examine different cribs in shopping centres and at roundabouts and particularly in special indoor exhibitions, although I confess to finding myself immune to the thrill.  Here’s a picture of one to give you a flavour:

Now I must point out that the photo on the left shows what might be referred to as your ‘common or garden’ outdoor crib, known as ‘il-grotta’, or ‘the cave’.  The full-effects, and more elaborate version is called ‘il-presepju’ which I guess you could translate as ‘Maltese crib’.  Some of the il-presepju look a little bit like what a battle-field modeller might create if he had a lot of free time on his hands, (like this one for example).  Except here the supporting cast consists of weavers, farmers and bagpipe players, rather than, say, orcs, centaurs or Napoleonic troops from the late 18th century.


Lots of towns exhibit these complicated affairs, and although I saw one in Mdina didn’t think to take a photo.  So here’s another link to someone who did.

Merry Christmas.