The Malta Independent 22 February 2018, Thursday

TMID Editorial: Carnival triumphs over the cold and the rain

Monday, 12 February 2018, 09:54 Last update: about 10 days ago

The bad storm of last week was yesterday forgotten as Malta celebrated Carnival with all the enthusiasm this celebration annually musters.

There was a time when the repeated February storms induced the (MLP) government of the time to transfer the celebration of Carnival to the milder days of May.

The innovation did not impress people and as soon as there was a change of government, it went back to its original time, where it has remained. It would look as if Carnival in February is there to stay, rain or no rain.

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This is the time when Carnival is celebrated all over the world and it makes no sense to become the exception that celebrates Carnival in May. Of course, the reason for Carnival to exist, and its name too, goes back to the Catholic tradition of Lent, fasting, and the absence of meat. Today, hardly anyone remembers this genesis, or Jeudi Gras or Shrove Tuesday (two days gravitating around Carnival). All that has remained is the celebration of fun.

In Malta's case, the celebration of Carnival is a centuries-old tradition with some peculiar traits. The celebration, or rather the non-celebration of Carnival caused riots and deaths. And also unique in Malta is the re-enactment of Il-Parata, the ritualized sword fight between Turks and Maltese.

Otherwise, in Malta the preparation of the Carnival floats keeps the enthusiasts busy practically all the year round, creating more and more elaborate floats that seem to get bigger and more complicated as years go by.

Visually and artistically, these floats differ from the floats of other renowned Carnivals and have become an art-form in their own right. The present government was right to devote a site for a Carnival village where not only the floats can be built in safety from wind and rain but also where the tradition can be kept alive and exhibited as a tourist attraction.

It was a pity it rained so hard on Saturday that the dancing competition could not be held at the newly-inaugurated Tritons' Square. But there will be other less rain-soaked Carnivals when the beauty of the square can be enjoyed. One other positive aspect of Carnival is its harnessing of so many young people trying their hands at the dances. Maybe in time these dances can become more of an art-form than they already are.

The concentration of Carnival one day and Valentine's Day on Ash Wednesday next day may leave a bitter-sweet taste on those who are not used to similar strange juxtapositions as can happen in the Catholic calendar.

Finally, the crowds in Valletta despite the cold wind, the crowds and the evident delight in the other places where Carnival defiles were celebrated, from Gozo to Hamrun, show that Carnival is truly a people's feast. It is a tradition that will not disappear.

 


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