Carnival - UNIQUE!
Peter Paul Buttigieg B.A.
read during the 21st Convention of the Federation of European Carnival
Cities (FECC) in St. Petersburg, Russia, from the 27th May to 3rd June
2001. It was also published in Russian by "PRAZDNIK" magazine
is a small locality with a population of 5000, on the island of Gozo
- the sister island of Malta - in the middle of the Mediterranean about
50km south of Sicily. It is run by a Local Council with 5 elected members:
the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and 3 Councillors with one full time Executive
the religious feast of St. Peter & St. Paul, known locally as "L-Imnarja"
held on the 29th June and which lasts a whole week, Nadur is also famous
for its annual Carnival Celebrations or rather Revelry held on the 5
days preceding Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
Carnival is a unique experience! It is so unique for the spontaneity
and creativity of all those taking part. Some even call this as Grotesque
or Macabre Carnival.
is not one organized by any committee and subsequently no rules apply.
Sunset invites a multitude of masked and hooded creatures to throng
the streets of Nadur - creatures wearing all kinds of funny and grotesque
costumes, representing every sort of leg pulling, all ways of life and
steaming off all kinds of frustrations.
is no end to imagination - imagination inspired by the every day ills
and sufferings. Revellers wearing only a sheet or bedspread, in boiler
suits, in clergy or nun habits, wearing grotesque masks inspired by
the current affairs, locally and internationally- all walk up and down
the streets for hours on end. All covered from head to foot and no one
dare stop and unmask these devils. All one hears is a confusion of the
sounding of horns, ringing of bells, banging, whistling and anything,
which could add to the din and create an eerie and bizarre atmosphere.
is not uncommon to be able to watch the mimicking of a wedding ceremony,
couples in beds on wheels feigning lovemaking, in exaggerated pregnancy
costumes, the trailing of live animals like a sheep, a goat or a donkey,
the carrying of live or dead mice in cages and others dressed up as
doctors and nurses performing operations by sawing off limbs. All walk
up and down arousing the curiosity of the onlookers who try to identify
the real person but of course to no avail as the mask covers it all."
SPONTANEOUS CARNIVAL at Nadur has survived the times against all odds
and we can proudly say that it is the only traditional carnival celebration
still held in the Maltese islands which attracts thousands of people,
not only Maltese but also tourists, to enjoy the revelry that goes on.
besides the Spontaneous Carnival, Nadur is gaining popularity for its
Organised one, being held on Sunday at noon in the main square at the
centre of the village. This was started off in 1995 when the Local Council
established a Sub-committee for the Carnival Activities and voted Lm500
(2500Eu) for its first presentation, which proved to be a big success,
not only for the people present, but also for the participants who were
all from Nadur as established. This was held at noon in order to avoid
any interference with the spontaneous one at night.
Since then it improved considerably and established itself as one of
the main attractions for Carnival. For last year's edition, the seventh,
the Local Council voted Lm5000 (12500eu) which includes all the expenses
incurred for the whole organisation and all the prizes awarded for all
the competitions. Last year's programme had 25 items in all. There were
10 competitions open only for locals, which included: dancing; Carnival
costumes; Men impersonating women; Animals in costume; Grotesque masks;
small floats; Allegory floats and Hilarious Companies. As guests there
were 3 foreign groups: Banda St. Olaf from Sweden, Unkwa Dance Group
from Africa and the Juggamusigg Gmendre Jassasetza from Germany.
programme lasted 5 hours and ended with the Kukkanja - a competition
in climbing a pole for prizes hanging at the top. Over 500 participated
in this activity and what makes it so interesting is the fact that although
the prizes awarded for the competitions are not so high, those participating
would go out of their way to compete. For example, although the first
prize for the Allegory floats is Lm275 (687eu) it costs around Lm700
(1750eu) to build, let alone the work involved!
the first time this year, a Children Carnival was held on Friday at
noon especially catering for the primary school children and their parents.
Following its success this would surely be included in this year's activities.
all reflects the strong spirit of the people of Nadur for Carnival activities,
which is amply witnessed at night for all the 5 days in the Spontaneous
Carnival along the main street of Nadur.
Spontaneous Carnival at Nadur is surely a unique experience not to be