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Feast of Santa Maria

Of all the Maltese Summer Festas (feasts) the most popular of all is definitely the feast of the Assumption of St. Mary celebrated on the 15th of August in 7 different localities. Malta is a very Catholic island and many Maltese are devoted to St. Mary. The feast of St. Mary is popular for many reasons.

Santa Maria Fireworks
Festa fireworks

From a historical perspective, the feast of St. Mary is seen as the day when Malta was saved from the World War II shortage of supplies. It was the peak of World War II, way back in September 1941 when Malta received a supply from 8 merchant ships. After that, all the merchant ships that tried to reach Malta were attacked by German and Italian bombers and failed to make it through. The Maltese suffered greatly at this time, and the Victory Kitchens were set up to rationalise the few food and oil supplies that were available on the islands. Malta was being forced to surrender after 4 convoys had been intercepted and attacked before they could get to Malta. On the 15th of August at 9:30am, a severely damaged but still afloat oil tanker, the SS OHIO managed to get through to the Grand Harbour amongst a cheering crowd that saw it as the answer to their prayers. The convoy was then named ‘the Convoy of St. Marija’ by the locals. This convoy made the already popular feast of St. Mary even more popular and loved by the Maltese.

Santa Maria Convoy
SS Ohio entering the Grand Harbour - 15th August 1942

Nowadays the feast is celebrated at Mqabba, Qrendi, Gudja, Ghaxaq, Attard, Mosta and Victoria in Gozo. All the localities prepare a fireworks show for the night. If you manage to go on a high roof or hilltop somewhere in the middle of Malta, you will see a display of fireworks all around the summer sky.

Mid August is the peak of the summer Season in Malta, and it is usually the hottest period throughout Summer. Many of the businesses close for a week of holidays and it is one of those weeks where everybody goes to the seaside, or else goes for a holiday abroad. No need to say that the 15th of August is a Public Holiday in Malta.