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Sette Giugno: The Story Behind Why You Didn’t Have To Go To Work Today

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Festivities on this day mean one thing; thousands of people get to not go to work on a sunny Thursday! And while Sette Giugno is one of the most hyped public holidays in summer (it’s in the beginning of June and this time it’s on a weekday, y’all), many tend to forget why we really do get to have a public holiday on the 7th of June.

This day actually marks a great significance in our history — a step towards Maltese Independence. However, tragedy wasn’t the only thing taking place on this day; the British had also decided that we were to have full control of local affairs 

After the First World War, food started getting very scarce. Many Maltese people were getting close to starvation; since food was scarce and imports were few, everything became expensive AF. 

Farmers and merchants, being the nice and kind people they were, decided to skyrocket their prices in order to make a profit. The prices were so high, that when the government increased wages, the common folk could still not afford to buy bread.

In 1917, the British government offered a 10% rise to dockyard workers, and that still wasn’t enough to afford basic necessities. The rich were not really effected by this, and grain importers were making ginormous profits. They just did not give a fuck about price regulations. 

So on the 25th of February 1919, starving Maltese extremists attacked shopkeepers at A la Ville de Londres who remained open during the National Assembly meeting. 

During this meeting, we were given the same rights as other countries who benefited from the Paris Peace Conference. Basically, all the Allied Powers created this treaty to settle some peace contracts with the war’s losing countries  (this treaty inadvertently triggered a second world war, by the way).

Eventually, people were overcome by hunger and extremism. Have you ever met a hungry Maltese person? 

So on Saturday 7th June, shit went down really hard. 

There was another National Assembly meeting and some British guy came over to see if we could be given more rights. By this time we all thought that the Brits were sneaky fuckers, so we did not really believe them. 

The police and postal employees were threatening to go on strikes, and as you may not know, postal employees going on strike at the time practically meant the country not working anymore. 

After all, the post office was the heart of the country, and it had just shut down.

The first thing to piss people off on the day was the fact that the Brits took the Maltese flag off the A la Ville de Londres shop to put up the Union Jack and other buildings. 

The President of the Court had passed away that week, so they put them up half-mast.

The Maltese people went batshit; they broke into the shop in order to put down the flag and rip the flagpole off the building. 

The crowd moved off the the Officers’ Club, were they broke in and destroyed all the windows. The mob was shouting “f’għ*xx kemm għandkom!” and other profanities to the officers on duty, who tried to restrain the crowd. Big mistake. never restrain an angry Maltese person brah. 

When the attacks happened, the Maltese police did not try to stop the crowd. 

Let’s face it; also being Maltese and not being rich businessmen, most policemen were probably hungry too. Even though they were paid by the British Government, they still had their Maltese brothers’ backs.

The British officers were assaulted, and the flag was taken away. The crowd moved on to the Meteorological Office, where they broke off all the window panes again, tearing the place down and destroying everything inside. 

The furniture and flag were thrown out of the building, where people burned them in a fit of rage.

Now, this is making the Maltese people sound like crazy savages, but one has to keep in mind that people were literally dying from hunger and the Government really did not give a fuck. 

Nobody was trying to feed the starving families, and watching your family slowly wither away is a horrible thing to witness. 

The mob moved on to the Palace Square, where they provoked soldiers. Another mob of angry peopled broke into the Daily Malta Chronicle offices and destroyed all of the printing presses. 

A different mob literally teared down the homes of profiteering merchants in Strada Forni. 

By this time, the crowd was made up of thousands of people, and only 64 soldiers were sent out to subdue it. The crowds were attacking many different locations at the same time. The house of Cassar Torreggiani — one of the importers who jacked up his prices letting the common folk starve — was ransacked. 

A bunch of soldiers were sent to the Chronicle offices to protect the building, but people were having none of that, so they started throwing rocks and stuff at them. This also happened at Strada Forni, where six British soldiers were crapping themselves trying to calm down a crowd of thousands of angry, hungry Maltese people. 

One of the soldiers had his uniform ripped off and his gun stolen. Even though the soldiers were aiming at the crowd, they were strictly ordered not to shoot anybody.  

A gunshot was heard from the Cassar Torregiani house, and that kind of gave off the impression that it was the Maltese people who fired the first shot, even though nobody was harmed.  

When the soldiers heard the gun go off, one of them shot at the crowd, marking the first victim of the Sette Giugno riots — Manwel Attard. 

Ġuże Bajada was also shot as he was carrying a Maltese flag in Strada Teatro. 

As the Chronicle building was being set on fire by the crowd, one of the Lieutenants ordered one of his soldiers to shoot low and away from the crowd. 

The soldier apparently did not understand the order well, and instead he shot Lorenzo Dyer, a guy who was trying to get away from the fire.

Dyer was lifted up by the Maltese crowd and carried to Palace square, as they did not want him to succumb to his injuries. A total of three people died on the day, and another 50 were injured. 

The following day, 8th of June, people were still attacking millers. The Palace of Colonel Francia, who owned a milling machine, was attacked — the crowd threw all of his belongings out of the window. 

Forty Navy Marines were sent to his house to stop the mob. Carmelo Abela entered the building looking for his son, who was presumably throwing sofas out of the windows. 

The Marines tried to arrest Carmelo, but since he resisted in order to get his son to safety, they ran a bayonet through his stomach. 

Someone should’ve called Kendall. 

It was a sad day for our countrymen to live through. Sons were slaughtered and husbands were murdered. 

It was not an easy time for Malta to live through. Censorship was reinstated in political articles and people continued to riot in order to feed their families. 

But eventually, we got through it together, finally fed and more independent. And that’s why you’re now chilling on your sofa, probably planning to eat your third pizza this week instead of going to work.

Tag people who’d love to read about the reason behind today’s festivities!

READ NEXT: A (Brief) Beginner’s Guide To Maltese History Part 2: The Phoenicians

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