Marija Bambina - Village feast of The Nativity of the blessed Virgin Mary


This feast is celebrated in many local towns and villages - Senglea, Naxxar, Mellieħa, and also in Xagħra Gozo. 

This day is special for the Maltese and it is locally nicknamed "Il-Vitorja", Victory Day.  The Maltese have always been so devoted to our Lady and it is a local belief that Our Lady has protected the Maltese over the years during difficult times.  The Great Siege of Malta,  won against the Ottoman Empire, ended on 8th September 1965. The Maltese also savoured another victory on 5th September 1800 when helped by the British, the French were shipped off from the coasts of Malta after a two-year invasion in which the French looted so much of the Maltese riches.  The Maltese also connected another victory to this holy day, this time during World War two.  On 8th September 1943, the Allied commander in chief in the Mediterranean, Dwight D. Eisenhower, that the agreement reached with the Italian Government to cease hostilities against the Allies.

In Gozo, this feast lovingly known as Marija Bambina is very popular amongst the Xagħrin, Gozitans, and also the Maltese who take the opportunity to enjoy the feast in Xagħra whilst on their last holiday break before preparing for their kids' scholastic year.  Many emigrants flock back to their roots to retrace their childhood thrills of the feast.

From weeks before the feast, Xagħra is dotted with blue lights spiking up from the rooftops.  As much, are the religious and spiritual preparations.

The festivities intensify as festa day approaches.  The village square gets busier. The cafes and restaurants are crowded with their clientele enjoying a meal, savouring a cocktail, or relaxing over a cuppa joining the festive mood.

Many young and older prepare for the feast throughout the year.  Unlike the busy urban life in Malta, Gozitans are still proud of their heritage and traditions.  As the feast approaches, many take part in decorating the village streets and also the Church.

During the week before the feast, many activities are organised both for the villagers to share in the entertainment and also, to gather funds to cover expenses. 

The day before the feast day is the most crowded full of merrymaking.  The village band adds music to this celebration and beautiful colourful fireworks fill the black skies.

The day of the feast is more solemn and spiritual starting the day with a concelebration in the Basilica of the Nativity of our Lady.  Bands fill the village streets with music and fireworks are heard throughout the day.  At around 7:30 pm the Statue of the Nativity of our Lady emerges from the church joining a procession of clergy, the band and many villagers who follow the statue with great faith. In the square, a muscial concert is held in honour of Our Lady and the procession then goes through the main streets of the villages. 

At around 11pm the statue enters again the church.