“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, so goes the ancient English dictum. However, I have always struggled with it and I have always found it difficult to accept it, nonetheless embrace it. Speaking of beauty I much prefer Jean Anouilh’s proverb “Beauty is one of the rare things that do not lead to doubt of God”. I think I would be safe to say that the beauty that the Maltese festa conveys is of such a character. Although I am not a festa enthusiast in the real sense of the word, I think I do own the ability to appreciate and at times fall in love with the artistic richness that continues to be expressed in the streets and squares of our towns and villages during festa time.
Ilwien il-Festi Maltin. Colours of Maltese Festas Volume 2 edited by Andrew Borg with photos by Mark Micallef is the sequel for the first volume among so many that will be eventually published with the aim of advertising the Maltese titular and non-titular feasts in the best possible way. Opening with a message in both Maltese and English by the Bishop of Gozo Mgr Mario Grech, this second volume of Ilwien il-Festi Maltin features eight feasts celebrated in our islands, six in Malta and two in Gozo. While the first volume contained an interesting study about the Maltese festa by Charles Coleiro, this second volume presents us with an interesting piece of research by Victor Caruana entitled The Development of the Maltese-Festa Processional Statues. The article, or rather the study, is a compulsory read for all those who have to their heart the development of the Maltese festa.
So much for Jeremy Boissevain’s saying that “Feasts will die when people cease to walk barefoot”, Ilwien il-Festi Maltin is another proof in favour of a positive future for the Maltese festa. Though the Maltese nation is more erudite than before, people travel abroad constantly and the world of the internet is easily accessible from almost anywhere on the islands, the people of Malta and Gozo have made the festa unit part of their natural lifestyle. The people of our islands expect the titular or local feast to be celebrated on its annual anniversary in the same way that they expect the heat to accompany the summer months. Feasts are part and parcel of our Maltese and Mediterranean culture. Mark Micallef and Andrew Borg’s book is a feather in their cap! Publishing such a sumptuous book is another proof that the Maltese festa is colourful enough to make such an ambitious project once again possible.
Edited by Andrew Borg, photography by Mark Micallef
Deer Publications, Malta 2002, 296 pages