Msida celebrating its feast in honour of St Joseph over the weekend and in line of sticking to traditions as only the Maltese can, the giant ġostra pole was once again oiled up for opportunists and thrill-seekers alike to clamber on up and snatch the flag.
A bunch of men climbing up a pole slathered in lard? Sounds interesting.
For over 200 years, the greasy-pole climb has been held in localities all over the island, and Msida is definitely no stranger to the tradition.
Participants run up the pole with as much of a back-up as they can get before the lard and Newton’s Law come into play.
Momentum is lost, friction eases up and traction is lost as hopefuls fall into the waters below, all the while reaching for the flag placed at the end of the 16-metre post.
Crowds gather in glee to cheer and applaud as each participant takes their turn at capturing the flag. Few suffer slight injuries from belly flops and shallow waters.
Only those who take part in the organisation of the feast itself are allowed to take the rite of traditional passage and we’ve got a low-down on what went on last Saturday in photos, from the pre-party greasing to the slips and falls and everything else in-between.
Crowds gathered quickly to cheer on participants
It all started with the elusive flags being placed…
Flags in three different colours are placed at different lengths along the pole, each waiting for crazy contestants to make a leap of faith for them as they slide down into the waters below.
Buckets of lard are then slathered all over the upper-facing side of the pole
We wonder just how much animal fat was used for this year’s event? What happens if one of the runners is vegan?
Literal chaos then ensues as time after time, people try and fail
So close, yet so far.
Hands down the best face we’ve seen fall off a pole. Ever.
Some lucky ones even manage to grab a hold of the flapping cloth.
But ultimately, it’s still all about community
At the core of every feast is the principle of localities coming together for a single purpose. A contrasting view of the pika that drives the competition between each village (or band club), the heart and soul of Maltese culture.
Photo credit: Joseph Galea (@galea_j)
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