No matter how much of a global village the whole world’s becoming, there are always some traditional curiosities that manage to remain hidden and mysterious to many people out there. And no matter how many times we’re asked about them, we revel in telling their story one more time, explaining the cultural passion most of us have towards these sometimes centuries-old traditions. Well, in the case of these seven pieces of Maltese culture and tradition, you might not need to:
1. Our love of fireworks
Remember when, in 2016, the feast of Żurrieq (a village with a population of just over 11,000 people) broke the world record for the biggest single firework ball, making the whole sky look like that one scene from The Lord of the Rings? Well apparently, so does the internet! The GIF version of the video that went viral in Malta hit the likes of Reddit and Facebook, and now the world is torn between thinking it’s fake and wanting to come and experience our weekly summer firework extravaganzas in person!
2. Our potato blood
When a starchy vegetable is one your biggest exports and manages to get half a million views on YouTube, you can’t really shy away from saying it’s part of your tradition. It’s so much part of our tradition, that some of us have it right in their blood. The 2013 video went so viral, that it now has its own Know Your Meme database entry! We made it guys; now, everyone knows that an integral part of Malta’s culture is patata.
3. Our habit (and hobby) of shooting down birds
You can’t expect to open your doors to the digital age and not build a bad reputation on certain things you label as tradition. The 2015 Spring Hunting Referendum was a months-long crusade that quickly (and inevitably) turned political and left most of us bruised and disenchanted. With the (eventually victorious) portion of the population constantly claiming that hunting is an integral part of Maltese culture, this local tradition was quick to get on a lot of countries’ radars…most of the time, however, for all the wrong reasons.
4. Pastizzi, the cornerstone of our country
The first, second and third thing on a person’s mind when you ask them about traditional Maltese food. The tiny pastries have made it to food blogs worldwide, and are slowly penetrating international communities. There’s a very big chance that pastizzi will be the only Maltese tradition a tourist will know about before coming to our country, and we want to make sure it stays that way.
5. Our love/hate relationship with Kinnie
You know your country’s traditional soft drink’s made it when, on Reddit, people living in Utah are trying to get their friends from Canada to bring down a couple of bottoms through customs. Unless you’re like these two *expletives* above here, who pretty much hate everything about Malta…including Kinnie.
6. Our dedication to 80s box office flops
For most people around the world, Popeye was a 1980s box office flop that saw one of Robin Williams’ least successful (albeit still hilarious) character portrayals. For Malta, it’s that time we built an entire village for a film set and kept it there as a mini theme park turned party venue. And as the years go by, everyone’s taking notice of this sheer dedication to big names over good ratings, with Popeye Village actually making it to Reddit as a curiosity.
7. Our sheer determination in the face of impossible challenges (aka the Ġostra)
Perhaps one of the very first Maltese forays into the viral world is this amazing photo of the traditional ġostra in St. Julian’s. Strangely enough, it also feels like the most adequate part of Maltese tradition to go viral, seeing as this particular tradition (and most importantly this picture) says much more than a thousand words about the country it’s from. The photo has not only been featured on Reddit and other social media multiple times, but has also sparked a wide variety of memes, including some of our favourites:
Which is your favourite Maltese viral tradition? Let us know in the comments and tag a foreign friend to educate them on the way of the Maltese meme.