By now, you’ve seen your fair share of epilepsy-inducing Christmas lights and climbing Santas. You’ve also likely seen at least a couple of cribs with their rgħajja (shepherds), il-ħmar (no not your neighbour, an actual donkey), il-baqra (the cow), l-anġli (the angels) and a bunch of other pasturi (Nativity figures).
Have you ever wondered what the story would have been like if Jesus had been born in Malta? Yeah, so have we. Here are the stages that lead up to the nativity scene.
1. There will be a baby shower but three suspicious men will be invited…
What’s the point of giving birth without a baby shower? Traditionally only women are invited to baby showers – but they’ve made an exception this time.
Three Kings: ‘Ġbarna 30 eurown kull wieħed u xtrajnilek pushchair u naqra inċens minghand Zara Home.’
Mary: ‘King int! Grazzi!’
They go on to play a few run-of-the-mill baby shower games such as ‘Guess the baby’ and ‘The diaper raffle’.
2. Lovin Malta will predict the name
Lovin Malta has of course heard the big news about the pregnancy and published an article predicting baby names. Based solely on current trends, they go for:
Josmar – a unique blend of the parents’ names
Francis – after the current Pope
Cleavage – an actual Maltese name
3. The rush to hospital will be long and fractious
After nine months of crazy hormones and cravings for jarred pickles, pastizzi tal-peanut butter, and candy tal-pick’n’mix, Mary’s water breaks while engrossed watching yet another balloon-bursting competition on ‘Ħadd Għalik‘. Joseph and Mary rush to the car, only to find themselves stuck in traffic as soon as they get to Valley Road, Msida after a 10-minute downpour; ‘Għidtlek ma tgħaddix minn haw, Jo!‘
A few more (one-sided) arguments ensue:
‘Xbajt nisma fuq il-politika Jo, eqliblu.’
‘Bil-mod Jo, ċitazzjoni jonqosna’
‘Għandi aptit kebab, dak Halal?’
4. There will be a badly-timed snack break at Papillon’s healthy hospital cafe
Joseph feels faint and the nurses express concern over how pale he’s become. Mary screams ‘GET OUT!’ yet it remains unclear whether she is referring to the baby or Joseph. Joseph nonetheless takes advantage of the opportunity to leave the ward and goes down to Papillon for a pea cake and coffee.
‘Le x’epidural, ejja ħa mmorru ‘l hemm!’
5. The birth will be announced on Facebook
Despite Lovin Malta’s predictions, the new proud parents decide to name the baby Jesus (‘Ġesu għad-dritt’) after a pleasant trip to Madrid. Mary updates her Facebook status and adds ‘Birth of Child’ to her life events. The newspapers and TVM will also rush in for their annual awkward interviews with frazzled mummies.
6. The entire family will come to visit
In the Bible, Matthew’s narrative speaks of ‘wise men’ (magi) who follow a star to the house where Jesus dwells. In the Maltese version of the nativity scene;
‘Sibna fejn ta bil-Google Maps! Xtaqna niġu iktar kmieni imma kien hemm diversion il-Kappara.’
Along with the wise men arrive the kunjati (in-laws), curious neighbours, a couple of priests and a few shepherds from Gozo to congratulate the new parents. They come, of course, bearing flowers, balloons, wet wipes, a ‘Congratulations it’s a boy!’ card from Tillate – dak t’isfel ta’ ħdej Papillon, sandwich tal-ħobż sliced and a Melita Pay TV voucher.
Everyone pinches the baby’s cheeks while repeating on loop ‘Kemm hu ħelu, thanks God!‘
For foreign readers, il-Quċċija is a Maltese tradition which takes place on the baby’s first birthday, in which friends and relatives gather around a bunch of objects placed on the floor, namely a calculator, egg, pen, Bible and measuring tape. The first one the baby picks (accompanied by much shouting and clapping) is believed to indicate his/her future profession.
What Jesus picks is beyond us – but a good time is had by all.