As time passes and the world seems to go out of its way to divide us, it’s nice to know that the Maltese will always have traditions and norms that unite us. From the furniture version of cling-film, to an endless array of red plastic candles, there are some things we’ll always associate with our childhood home.
1. The untouched sitting room
Modern houses seem to have done away with the age old tradition of having one room (and most likely the largest one) that goes entirely unused, bar the annual Christmas gathering, and the tberik tal-familja. This space is reserved exclusively għan-nies and usually smells distinctly of damp.
Guaranteed find: something (most likely a sofa) wrapped in plastic.
2. The drawer full of santi
“Tgħid mhux ħa narmihom!” – a (arguably fair) statement made by anyone who’s about to start a collection of the paper reminders given out at the end of funerals. Keeping those of family and friends is understandable, but when you have a drawer full of floating heads over clear blue skies (and a few doves) things start to get weird. Still, you can’t just throw them away, can you?
Guaranteed find: the entirety of Getty Images’ stock sky shots.
3. The wedding souvenir shelf
It might be tucked away in some unseen corner of your home, or prominently on display for all who enter the living room, but it exists – it’s just a matter of finding it.
Guaranteed find: a small crystal figurine your mother felt was too precious to throw away. Also a small bag of perlini.
4. The shrine
Whether it’s a santa propped up behind a candle, or an actual carved out shrine, every Maltese household has the shrine to ensure that their prayers of goodwill for their children (and tixwit on their neighbours) are answered as hastily as possible.
Guaranteed find: a red candle with a slightly melted plastic case.
5. The forest behind your door
No, not an actual forest. The Maltese behind-the-door-forest consists entirely of olive and palm leaves garnered over the years from various religious ceremonies. Another case of “tgħid mhux ħa narmihom!” for some reason these always work their way to the inside of your front door.
Guaranteed find: a silverfish very happy in his new home.
6. The cupboard you can’t touch
Like… ever. This is non negotiable. When you are sent to retrieve something from there you know you’ve been given the highest of responsibilities, and with that comes the fear that one false move could destroy everything.
Guaranteed find: a pair of weirdly designed salt/pepper shakers.
7. The Christmas zone
Buried behind a wardrobe or trapped under a bed, this section will house all the winter wonderland decorations just waiting for their special time of year. The space usually doubles up as the ġulbiena hiding spot while the gifts have been vacated.
Guaranteed find: The crib you made way back in year 3.
8. The drawer full of plastic bags
Even before we were charged per bag, every family had a drawer which contained nothing but one giant plastic bag, filled with an endless supply of plastic bags.
Guaranteed find: crumbs from the last person who used one of these bags to buy a ħobza.
9. The ‘gas cylinder corner’
It doesn’t matter if it’s on a balcony, or tucked away in the yard, there’s a space in your Maltese home that’s basically a gas cylinder, a spider that’s been chilling there for years, some dried up leaves and a tile. You know the tile, the one that is different to all other tiles in the house, but is just sitting under the cylinder (or propped up against the wall).
Guaranteed find: that bloody tile. WHAT IS IT FOR?