Boasting more churches per square kilometre than most places (thank you Vatican for not allowing us the number one spot) Malta is known for its religious affinity. Most Maltese people, believers or otherwise, have been to mass at some point in their lives so it’s no surprise that no matter which parish you attend, you always seem to find the same characters.
1. The nanniet who are always 30 minutes early
Checking in as early as possible to get some additional prayers in (and find a good seat front and centre), the anzjani of Malta always fill up the front pews way before mass is scheduled to start.
2. The loud, off-key singer
Every mass has at least one person who still adheres to the old saying: singing loudly is like praying twice. Just consider yourself lucky if the tone-deaf singer is hidden somewhere in the pews behind you and not plonked in front of the mic.
3. The prayer racer
Finishing the Missierna before everyone else isn’t going to get you a medal, and guess what: we all know the words too! Your rushed version isn’t impressing anyone.
4. The fashionably late crowd
Sneaking in through the side door 20 minutes in and then pretending you’ve been there the whole time isn’t going to earn you any brownie points with the big man upstairs.
5. The staring baby
Resting their chubby cheeks on momma’s shoulders, once the staring baby catches your eye you lose any hope you had of paying attention. The rest of the mass now comprises of you pulling silly faces trying to entertain the child (and quickly shifting to a serious demeanour as soon as the mother turns around to see what her baby is looking at).
6. The person who gets all the responses wrong
Adamant to stick to the old responses, these people never seem to realise that this week we’ve changed up the ismagħna nitolbuk Mulej. Also mass in English now has an entirely new set of responses – learn them.
7. The offertory sprinter
Getting some cardio into your daily routine is always a great idea, but maybe don’t make it your journey up to the altar a power-walk.
8. The silent farter
There will never be a warning for this one. One minute you’re reciting the creed, and the next a toxic wave washes over you. Everyone has noticed, and everyone is resisting the urge to laugh/retch. You too must stay strong.
9. The lone stander
You know that moment towards the end of Mass, where some people kneel and some people sit? There will always be that one person who breaks the mould and remains standing despite the overwhelming peer pressure to do otherwise.
10. The meet-and-greet fans
Hanging around the zuntier, waiting for everyone to leave just so they can shake the priest’s hand, the meet-and-greet fans will do whatever it takes to get their friendly smile ‘n’ nod.
11. The constant fawra
Huffing and puffing through mass, these people are always angling themselves to be directly under the fan to fight off the hot flushes.
12. The over-eager peace givers
With their eyes boring holes through the side of your head minutes before you even have to say ‘il-paċi miegħek’ these people are always ready to spread the love, and live for the social moments during the mass.
13. The serial tut-ers
Sucking their teeth in disappointment at every mistake the youths make, there people are not afraid to call you out. Never directly, of course – it’s all about that passive aggressive tut.
You didn’t go up for communion? tut.
You sneezed a bit louder than you’d have liked? tut.
Your outfit didn’t meet pre-designated standards they’ve invented in their heads? tut.