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Happy feast day! Here’s why we celebrate the traditional Imnarja festival in Malta & Gozo
Have you ever celebrated Imnarja?

Jillian Mallia

Happy feast day, everyone! 29th June is a special feast for locals and one that has been around for centuries. The day is one of the islands’ public holidays (YAS!) and celebrates religious, cultural and rural customs. Here’s a little insight into the much-loved feast day.

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Where does the name Imnarja come from?

First off, you might be wondering what kind of name Imnarja is – and we don’t blame you. Another version of the name is luminarja, which is derived from the Latin word luminare which means to light up. The lighting aspect of the festival was seen through the burning of bonfires and candles in Rabat and Mdina. The feast is also celebrated at Gozo’s Nadur, too!

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What usually goes down on Imnarja?

While technically the feast celebrates Saint Peter and Saint Paul, like many feasts today, the saints aren’t at the top of most people’s list for celebration. But unlike other local feasts, this one is laced with culture and traditions, holding folklore at the forefront of the celebrations.

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Fun and merriment in true Maltese style, would be expected in a feast like this! A lot of traditional folk music called ghana is usually heard, that will definitely have you bobbing to the tunes, and obviously food stalls are usually open for business. Because what’s a Maltese feast without food? The feast is usually celebrated in Buskett Gardens on the outskirts of Rabat, with liturgical services held at the grand and beautiful Mdina Cathedral.

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There are also other traditions and fun events that usually take place including horse and donkey races in the late afternoon, with the palju competition (a traditional banner that is given to winners of various races) which used to be presented by none other than the Grand Master of the Order way back when.

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Maltese celebrate this feast for the same reason they celebrate all the other feasts: it’s a time to head out, enjoy good company, and enjoy the surroundings. However, according to Rabat locals, it seems like the grand celebration has been cancelled this year – like many other things (Thank you, Rona). But this way, you know more about this June feast, and possibly can celebrate safely with your nearest and dearest. There’s always next year!

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29th June 2020


Jillian Mallia
Written by
Jillian Mallia
A book lover, writer and globetrotter who loves exploring new places and the local gems that the Maltese Islands have to offer. An avid foodie and arts fanatic, Jillian searches the island and beyond for the perfect settings to write about.

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