Our study trip to Malta
1st – 8th October 2014
The culture of Malta
Malta is not only an island with a lot of water, sun and rocks but an island with a lot of history. This little island has a lot of culture which is very interesting and fascinating. In the following report, we would like to present some aspects of the Maltese culture to you.
The first aspect of Maltese culture that we would like to describe is the tradition and ancient customs:
Especially in the rural area of Malta the people integrate religion into their everyday lives and traditions mean a lot to them. One example is the Roman Catholic christening. After the christening people have a big celebration with family and friends and a lot of food.
The next big event in the life of a child is the il-quċċija, which happens on the child’s first birthday. Family and friends put some objects in a room and amid shouts and laughter, the baby crawls to one of the objects. Every object has its own meaning, e.g. the calculator means that the child is going to have a career in finance and the hard-boiled egg stands for prosperity.
The First Communion is a very big event, which can only be topped by the unique and popular weddings.
In the following paragraph, we would like to present some aspects of the language to you:
In Malta the official languages are Maltese and English. Maltese is the only Semitic language, which uses Latin letters. It developed from the Arabic dialect and has influences from the Latin, English, Italian, Spanish and the French languages.
Now we would like to say something about folk music and the Maltese folk dance: The Maltese folk music represents the history of a foreign controlled island and the suffering of the nation during the Second World War.
The music contains traditional instruments like the bagpipe but also the Spanish guitar as a popular instrument.
Ballads and folk songs are determined by Spanish rhythms and Sicilian and Arabian-oriental melodies. The Maltese Folkdance is called Il-parata and is characterised by courtly dancing figures. They are wearing costumes, which are no longer seen in the everyday life of the Maltese people. They only wear them on specifically feasts.
Now let us move on to the religion of Malta:
In Malta, 98% of the inhabitants belong to the Roman Catholic Church, which has a big influence on Maltese politics. As a result, abortion is illegal. The Maltese people claim to have 365 churches - so they have one church for every day of the year.
Malta also has different traditional holidays to Germany:
- 10.02. : “The Feast of St. Paul’s Shipwreck” (it’s a memorial day dedicated to the sinking of a ship belonging to the apostle Paulus)
- 31.03.(1979) : “Freedom Day” (withdrawal of the last British troops)
- 08.09.(1565) : “Our Lady of Victory” (the great siege by the knights of St. John against the Turks)
- 21.09.(1964) : “Independence Day”
- 13.12.(1974) : “Republic Day”
Now we would like to say a few words about some of the typical Maltese dishes.
- Bigilla: A puree which is made with brown or black beans, garlic, chilli, marjoram, mint, salt, pepper and lemon juice.
You can use it for dipping with, for example, vegetables and also spread it on your bread.
- Bragiolli: Bragiolli is also a typical food for Malta. It is a thin catted beef steak filled with soaked bread, bacon, garlic, parsley and hard-boiled eggs.
It is steamed in red wine sauce, onions, carrots, bay leaves and also salt and pepper.
- Fenek: The greatest national dish in Malta. It’s rabbit prepared in various ways. You can bake it in a crust, fry it in olive oil with capers and tomatoes, steam it in red wine sauce with garlic and bay leaves or serve the fenek together with pork belly.
- Pastizzi: It’s a Maltese snack and consists of puff pastry and, it too, can be prepared in different ways according to your own tastes and preferences.
You can fill it with cream cheese or with peas, pudding and minced meat.
- Timpana: A macaroni minced beef casserole with béchamel sauce.
- Habs bis-zejt: Last but not least roasted Maltese white bread with sieved tomatoes, onions, garlic and parsley.
This brings us on to the usual Maltese beverages.
- Cisk beer: The most well-known beer in Malta. The developer is Simonds Farsons Cisk and it has been brewed since 1928.
A lot of people say that it tastes very mild but others say the taste is very bitter.
Although opinions differ the fact remains that it is a very refreshing drink.
- Kinnie: A typical Maltese soft drink which has a wide fan base including tourists.
The developer is also Simonds Farsons Cisk and it was established in 1952.
Originally it should be an alternative to coca cola and other sparkling soft drinks.
It consists of chinotto, herbs, particularly wormwood herb which gives Kinnie its characteristic bitter taste. In our opinion, the first sip tastes very sweet but the longer it is in your mouth the more bitter it gets.
written by Nadine Knobbe, Melina Möller, Neele Fischer and Christin Tolle
Politics on the Maltese Islands
Since 1964, Malta has been a parliamentary representative democratic republic. Its representative is the president of Malta, who is currently Marie Louise Coleiro Preca. Preca is the second female president of Malta; the first one, Agatha Barbara, was the first female President in Europe. Before 1972, the state’s representative was the King or Queen of England. The head of state is the prime minister, who is currently Joseph Muscat. Before 1964, Malta was part of the British Empire, and, indeed, Malta is still part of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Malta only has two main parties, the left-wing Labour Party and the right-wing Nationalist Party. Even though the state’s electoral system is one of proportional representation, new parties have a hard time establishing themselves. Malta consists of 13 electoral districts, each of them sends out 5 representatives, which adds up to a total of 65 representatives. The voting participation is roughly 90% -unusually high for European countries. The population votes in their parliament for a legislative period of 5 years.
Malta has been a member of the EU since 2004. Since then, it has had a huge refugee problem: in comparison to the state’s population, the country has the most asylum seekers. For example, Malta had 4.525 asylum seekers per one million inhabitants in 2011, while Germany only had 625. Because of the Dublin II law, they have to grant these asylum seekers shelter and have to review their asylum applications. Maltese people resist and say that the island is too small for so many asylum seekers, who have to stay in detention centres for 10 to 18 months. Most of the refugees afterwards receive asylum from the USA.
Malta has a huge problem with everyday racism: The majority of the population is rather conservative and fears increased numbers of Muslims and black people in their state, who then take their jobs. This leads to, for example, landlords not giving them apartments but giving preference to the white Maltese population. Even the refugees, who dreamt of a better life for themselves and their families, get insulted in public and get discriminated by the Maltese population.
Malta has nearly no homeless people. For anyone who has problems finding a place to live there is a voluntary program big enough to grant everyone in need a shelter for at least half a year.
written by: Timo Glaser, Daniel Kaspar, Malcolm Rose, Phillip von Weyhe
On the 3rd of October we had a daytrip to Valletta, the capital of Malta. The founder of Valletta was the knight St John. Around Malta there is a town wall and it is located in the North of Malta. Floriana is the neighbouring town of Valletta.Valletta is surrounded by the largest natural harbour in the Mediterranean Sea called Grand Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour. Valletta is an important part of European history. At every corner you encounter objects of fascinating historical significance: votive statues, niches, fountains etc. Valletta is small in size, and it is quite possible for most people to explore the whole city on foot. In the narrow side streets there are many small cafes and shops, in the main street there are many large international shops amongst them music and jewelry shops. Nowadays the city’s unique setting plays host to a series of cultural events, from theatre in English to concerts by opera singers.
Our first stop was at The New Parliament that hasn’t been finished yet. In 2010, the construction of the new Parliament began and it should probably be completed by 2013.
The Upper Barrakka Gardens offers the best view on the island of Malta. From the gardens you can look across to the "three cities" Vittorosia, Senglea and Cospicua. It’s a very popular meeting place for young and old.
The St John’s Co-Cathedral was built between 1573 and 1578 as the conventual church for the Knights of St John. The church is considered to be one of the finest examples of high Baroque architecture in Europe and one of the world's great cathedrals.
The Grand Master’s Palace has been the administrative centre of Malta for almost three and a half centuries. The original palace, built in 1571, was the seat of the Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaliers of St John. Today it is home to the House of Representatives of Malta and the office of the President of the Republic of Malta.
written by Marie Klose, Jess Zuvakov, BG13-E
Culture - Compact eTrip
On Saturday the 4th of October a coach picked us up at the hotel in Buġibba and we began a trip across Malta.
Our first stop was ‘‘the three cities’’ including Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua. We learned a lot about the three cities - about their history as well as the social background of the former and current inhabitants. We passed, for example, the house of one of the former eight grandmasters of Malta.
We walked through the small side streets which gave us an idea of how the Maltese people live there. The three cities are different to the rest of Malta; they are not that popular amongst tourists and the local communities here celebrate different public holidays as nowhere else on Malta.
After strolling around these three cities, we went to a small fishermen’s village - a little harbour town called Marsaxlokk. There were many small colourful ships, which are typical for Malta. On that particular day, a small market was taking place where we could buy some souvenirs and bags and specialities of the country. There were a few small restaurants offering seafood dishes and we ate at one by the sea.
The next stop was the beautiful Blue Grotto which is 25 metres high. The water there was clear and light blue in parts. The bus stopped first on the street so that we could see the Blue Grotto from the highest vantage point. We took a lot of pictures and after that we went down to the place where everybody could go by boat to the Blue Grotto. Most of us took the boat and saw the beautiful shadows of the different colours of the light down around the grotto. Everybody was impressed.
Our last stop was the lovely Golden Bay, a sandy beach. Beaches like these are not so easy to find in Malta. Beaches tend to be rocky rather than sandy. We lay on the beach and watched the shots of a commercial spot for the Eurovision Song Contest for Malta. Young girls were riding on horses and trying to jump over an obstacle.
All in all, the trip took us seven hours but it was very nice to see all the places. It was a great day!
written by Elisa Wirsig, Hanna Schulz and Anna Schneeclaus
Day Trip to Mdina
On the 5th of October we were in the former capital of Malta, Mdina. Mdina is called “The silent city“. It is located in the south-western part of the island and has a population of about 300. Mdina is situated on a 190 meter high hill. Tradition holds that the Apostle St. Paul resided in the city after his historical shipwreck on the islands.
The city was largely influenced by the Romans and Arabs. Malta passed to the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in 1530 AD.
In 1571, Valetta became the new capital city of Malta. In 1693, there was an earthquake on the island which destroyed many buildings. The knights of St. John helped to reconstruct the city. Since then, tourism has rejuvenated the city. Only a limited number of resident and emergency vehicles, wedding cars and hearses are allowed within the city. The town can be accessed through three gates: the Gharreqin Gate, Greeks Gate and the Main Gate.
Before the rain started we were lucky enough to see and walk through the most beautiful Main Gate. We noticed that the city consists of many small streets and that the houses were built very close to one another. The architecture of the city was designed with a view to protecting against strong sunlight which beats down on the island nearly all year round.
The idea was to do a rally to explore Mdina. We had 90 minutes to finish the rally and we had to answer different questions.
Unfortunately, we had bad luck with the weather because it started to rain. This was the first time it had rained in three months and we were not dressed for it! Therefore we searched for a restaurant to eat and sit in out of the bad weather. After a beautiful lunch together, we went back to our hotel. A few of us put on rain capes or trash bags and we looked very funny. Dressed like this, we made our way to the bus stop and waited for a long time in the rain. We had a lot of fun although it was raining. It was definitely an experience that we will never forget.
written by Kim Sanders, Isabel Krey and Lincy Lünstedt
Day Trip to Gozo
On Monday the 6th of October at 9 o’clock in the morning we went to the bus stop and took the bus to the port and went by ferry to Gozo. The ride was very comfortable and we all had fun.
Gozo is a very small island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea and has only 31,000 inhabitants. Compared to Malta, Gozo has a lot of green areas and is also a bit older than the main island.
After arriving on the neighbouring island, we went to our bus. We were very surprised, that it was such a small bus. We had to squeeze on but we didn’t really mind!
First we visited the Azure Window in Dwejra, which is a 20 metre high and 100 metre wide limestone natural arch. It was very impressive. The water is turquoise and a lot of divers come here to have a look. We took pictures, also of our whole group, enjoyed the view and some of us climbed up the rocks until we went back to our little red bus.
Next stop was the capital of Gozo, the city Victoria which is in the middle of the island and the cultural heart of Gozo. We saw the Cittadella Cathedral and went up to its highest point, the rampart, and took in the 360 degree view. In the fortress, there are some shops, museums and even two families still living there. Afterwards, we had the chance to explore the city in small groups.
Finally, our last stop was Ramla beach in Xagrah where we all had a lot of fun. The waves were very high and strong, so some of us played and swam in the sea. Unfortunately, several of us injured ourselves on rocks in the water. Others just took a nap on the beach, enjoyed the sun or ate pizza at the restaurant.
After the beach we went back to the bus which drove us to the port where we took the ferry once more back to Malta. Back in our hotel we had two more hours until we had to take the next bus which brought us to St. Julians. We had some drinks and danced together. We were all in agreement that this was a very funny and nice evening.
written by Ronja, Janicka and Nora