Millennials might not be the first thing people think of when confronted with Maltese traditions. 14-year-old student Jake Gauci wants to challenge that preconception, and he’s putting up a Good Friday exhibition echoing one of the island’s most beautiful churches.
“I’ve always loved Maltese culture and traditions, and that’s how I got into religious feasts,” Jake told Lovin Malta. The teenager, who’s currently in Form 4 at St. Aloysius College, is originally from San Ġwann, but he’s always had a special place in his heart for Mosta. “My grandpa used to live there, and we worked on an exhibition together,” he said of his beloved late relative.
Jake spends a lot of his time in Mosta, and he has his grandparents’ love for traditions to thank for his biggest passion. “I used to love watching them set up for both the Santa Marija feast and the Holy Week celebrations,” he told Lovin Malta. “I clearly came out just like my grandfather. I love going to the festa, seeing the preparations, visiting the każini, and seeing the pyrotechnics. And I also collect replica statues of the different villages around the island. When it’s their feast, I set them up carefully at my house.”
Good Friday exhibitions are still relatively popular all over the island, with hundreds of locals creating their own tiny models of popular statues and biblical scenes. As far as Jake and his grandfather’s version of the tradition goes, however, the pair decided to take things up a notch and give it a local spin… by adding various models and sections modelled after the actual Mosta church.
“I had been asking and encouraging him to do this for a while now, a whole seven years actually,” Jake recalled. “I gave him the idea to contrast the traditional exhibition with that of the Mosta church.”
Based on Mosta’s Rotunda, the model is a whole 2.5 metres long and wide, and boasts a set of nine statues that can be found in the Mosta parish. “There’s also two shrines in it, one of which is exactly the same as the one in the church,” Jake explained to Lovin Malta. “I also have a set of small statues which represents the via sagra.”
The exhibition is a collaborative effort through and through. “Most of the woodwork was done by nannu,” Jake told Lovin Malta. “He also had some help from other enthusiasts. Now that he’s passed away, I’m trying to keep the annual tradition. Every year, I try to add more things so that I keep our dream alive.”
Jake takes part in the Wirja Redemptoris Mater Mosta, which has been going strong since 2011. But Jack, the youngest member of the group, wants people to know he’s not alone. “We young people still embrace these cultural values,” he told Lovin Malta.
This year’s Good Friday exhibition will run between the 23rd March and 1st April, just off the main square at the Mosta Gunners. It’s mostly open between 9am and 12pm and from 5pm to 9pm, but more information on specific dates and times can be found on the Facebook page.