At Christmas we decorate our houses with trees and fairy lights and we celebrate the birth of Jesus but Easter is arguably a more important celebration in the Christian calendar. How has it ended up being about chocolate? One of the main reasons I was attracted to Malta over Easter was the idea that Easter was a big event in their calendar. Although I tried to buff up on the processions before we went I still wasn’t prepared for the sheer scale of the Naxxar Good Friday Procession.
All the way through Lent each village has its own exhibitions of Easter paintings and artifacts, the churches show off their enormous statues depicting the Stages of the Cross and the flags all fly at half mast. On Good Friday itself, the roads in Naxxar are closed as the village prepares to try to outdo the solemnities in neigbouring villages. At about 4pm the procession starts with the first statue being slowly lifted out of the church. The whole mood is quiet and respectful, and it is a great honour to be asked to take part.
Some of the children were so young and yet so well behaved. The procession moves incredibly slowly so they have to stand still for a very long time. Their parents would often walk along beside them and supplied drinks and snacks to keep them going!
All the different characters were represented: elders, shepherds, Roman soldiers, Roman ladies… People sat outside their homes all the way along the procession route to watch it go by. As the light started to fade I had to be a little more inventive with my shots and really had to push the ISO to the max!
All around the village there were crosses made from lights which looked incredible at night. Once we had seen all the different stations – which we did by walking back down the procession because it was moving so slowly! – we went for dinner. They were still going when we came out at 10:30pm and we were able to watch the last statues go back into the church. It was a really incredible spectacle and such a shame that the Easter Sunday celebrations were cancelled due to the monsoon-like rain, from what I hear the statue of the risen Christ is run out of the church in a flurry of confetti!