How To Celebrate Independence Day
From the Phoenicians to the Romans, Malta spent centuries being occupied by a long line of colonial powers due to its geographically strategic position. After Britain helped Malta cast out French rulers, the island was incorporated into the British Empire in 1813. Malta was heavily bombed by Italian and German forces during the second World War, which increased the desire for sovereignty among the population following the war’s conclusion.
Then, in September of 1964, the Crown finally relinquished its 150 year long rule and a new constitution was written. A decade later, Malta became a republic and Sir Anthony Mamo replaced the Queen as Head of State. Tomorrow, 21 September, marks the 59th anniversary of what we now call Jum l-Indipendenza (Independence Day).
The day is a national holiday in Malta, and if you’re still not sure how you’re going to spend it, we’ve got you covered. There is an array of cultural events held in Valletta from morning till night for those who wish to take part in the festivities.
Pontifical Mass & Flower-Laying Ceremony
First, a Pontifical Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Charles Scicluna at St John’s Co-Cathedral. For those who can’t make it out or simply would rather follow from home, the mass will be broadcasted on TVM, knisja.mt, Newsbook.com.mt, as well as 103 Malta’s Heart. Following the mass, the country’s Prime Minister, President and Opposition Leader will gather at the Independence Monument in Floriana for a flower-laying ceremony.
Independence Day concert
That evening, the Independence Day Concert will be held at the ever stunning Manoel Theatre. Led by Mro (Maestro) Michael Laus, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra will perform a wide variety of music pieces written by Maltese composers, as well as German composer Otto Nikolai and Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi (full programme). The concert will commence at 7pm, and is typically available to watch on TVM.
Now we realise the average person wouldn’t want to spend their holiday watching mass or an orchestra concert, but keep in mind just how young our country’s sovereign status truly is. Most of us probably have grandparents or even parents who remember when Malta was still under British rule. Why not pay them a visit and switch the concert on? Even if it’s just in the background, it could make for a really sweet moment.
If you’re on the search for a way to spend Independence Day with your friends, look no further. Per tradition, firework shows are expected to be arranged by several towns and villages across Malta and Gozo. You can catch a glimpse from lots of places, but the beautiful Valletta Grand Harbour offers the best view. Whether you’d rather throw a BBQ or simply share a six pack of beer, it’s a perfect opportunity to get together with your circle and watch fireworks colour the sky. Call it dinner and a show.
If you’re not that into cultural events and fireworks aren’t for you, consider visiting the beach. Plenty of locals take the opportunity to get one last swim in before Autumn comes out swinging with its harsh cold weather. Maybe go on a nice stroll or a hike, you could even take your dog with you – just make sure to do it before the fireworks are set off (that is if your dog is afraid of them).
Ofcourse, not everyone’s the outdoorsy type. You might just want to use the holiday to catch up on some sleep or finally finish that book, and that’s perfectly fine. With that in mind, it never hurts to take a moment and appreciate your country’s history – especially when it didn’t even have a president 60 years ago. Malta is where it is today thanks to the resilience of the Maltese people who stood their ground against rulers from countries hundreds of times bigger in size.
Having said that, whatever you end up doing, it’s your holiday and we hope you enjoy it!