Maltese tradition festa earned place on UNESCO list of cultural heritage
VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The UNESCO technical committee unanimously recommended that the tradition of the Maltese festa should be included in the prestigious catalog of intangible cultural heritage of humanity. The decision was formalised during UNESCO’s conference held in Botswana this week.
Described by UNESCO as a community event of religious origin, the Maltese festa is celebrated annually in village parishes across Malta and Gozo. The main festa season in Malta starts towards the end of April and runs until the beginning of October, with multiple events taking place in different villages.
While its roots lie in Christian tradition, the festa extends its social appeal beyond religious boundaries, uniting individuals from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Despite the increasing secularisation of society, the festa remain a vital part of Maltàs cultural heritage, safeguarding a profound sense of identity and continuity throughout the country.
On its website, UNESCO outlined the meaning of the traditional Maltese festa: “Community volunteers prepare the festa throughout the year and the event itself typically lasts a week. On the final day, a statue is carried in a procession led by the clergy and accompanied by members of the parish and marching bands. Festa weeks entail concerts, band marches, firework displays and bell ringing.”
UNESCO added: “Typical festa food, such as nougat, is sold from street stalls. The practice is transmitted informally through participation in the preparation and events. For instance, youth learn the stories and songs of the village and its sacred figures and how to participate in the festa by attending community events. Some parishes organise a children’s festa in conjunction with the church, and children carry a smaller statue through the town”.
In a post on X, Culture Minister Owen Bonnici said: “Big news for Maltàs cultural scene! The Maltese festa is now officially recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Kudos to the incredible volunteers who bring festas to life across the islands!”
– Photo Department of Information Malta –