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THE DAY MALTA BECAME A REPUBLIC
The day Malta became a republic
Republic Day, or as the locals refer to it as: Jum ir- Repubblika, is one of the two public holidays that are celebrated in the month of December in Malta. The 13th of December is the anniversary of arguably one of the most important days in the islands’ history, when Malta abolished the role of the Reġina ta’ Malta and became a republic.
Let’s get into the history. Rewind to the year 1800, when Malta voluntarily became part of the British Empire following a vote passing in favour of being a protectorate, after liberation from the French. Under British rule, the islands flourished and were transformed into a crucial base in the Mediterranean, all the way up until the end of the Second World War.
On the 21st September, 1964, the country came to an agreement with the British Empire. The agreement granted the Maltese independence and also allowed for them to remain part of the Commonwealth, with the Queen as the island’s head of state. Just 10 years later, the constitution was altered drastically, resulting in Malta’s transition from an independent state to a republic.
This change meant that the Queen was no longer Malta’s head of state and her governor-general, Sir Anthony Mamo, was sworn in as the first President of Malta on the same day.
There’s a lot to celebrate on Republic Day for the locals, especially when taking into consideration that the transition from independent state to a republic took place less than 60 years ago, which means that many remember the day with clarity. First up, the President of Malta, in this case the 10th President of Malta George Vella, hosts an award ceremony.
During the ceremony, citizens are commended for bringing honour to their country, whether by means of personal successes or meritorious service. Meanwhile, wreath laying ceremonies take place all over the island, on major monuments and military parades unfold in both Marsa and Valletta. The Annual Band Concert take place at the Manoel Theatre in Valletta every year, which consists of different bands from every town or village taking centre stage to play a combination of modern as well as traditional band marches.
The celebrations are highlighted and brought to an end with impressive firework displays, which illuminate the Grand Harbour between Marsa, a small town just outside of the capital city itself.
THE FEAST OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
As previously mentioned, there is another public holiday which falls in December and that is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Many Christians around the world, especially those of the Catholic faith, mark the feast and attend church services and masses to honour the feast.
Many have celebrated this religious feast since the 8th century as it refers to the celebration of the belief that Jesus’ mother Mary was born without sin and that God chose her to be Jesus’ mother. Over 90% of the Maltese population are nominally catholic and thus, many small feasts are celebrated in various towns and villages across the Maltese Islands.