Maltese folklore & traditions
Maltese folklore & traditional crafts
Malta has a lot of folklore and a number of traditions that were passed from one generation to another. The National Folklore Commission together with the Ministry for Culture and the Arts make sure to keep these traditions alive by holding several festivals in different towns and villages as well as the Malta International Folk Festival taking place in Valletta during December.
Lace making in Malta
One of the most important craft in Malta is traditional Maltese lace (bizzilla), which is bobbin lace of the filet-guipure variety. It is created on pillow stuffed with straw, with traditional designs featuring Genoese-style leafwork, and often the Maltese cross, but not necessarily. Historically, Maltese lace was worked on black or white silk, although nowadays it’s more common on ivory-coloured linen. You can find Maltese lace in tablecloths, placemats, serviettes, couture, other decorative items and in traditional Maltese costume.
Lace making has been popular since the 16th century, and Queen Victoria of England is said to be particularly fond of wearing Malta lace. In 1839, Thomas McGill noted in 'A Handbook, or Guide, for Strangers visiting Malta', that: "the females of the island make also excellent lace; the lace mitts and gloves wrought by the Malta girls are bought by all ladies coming to the island; orders from England are often sent for them on account of their beauty and cheapness."
Lace making is taught in special programs around Malta and Gozo, and remains a cottage industry throughout the islands.
The creation of filigree work (filugranu) in gold and silver flourished during the rule of the Knights in Malta. This included gold and silver ornamental flower garlands (ganutell) as well as embroidery (rakkmu). Filigree items are very popular in jewellery stores around Malta, especially in Valletta and include brooches, pendants, earrings, flowers, fans, butterflies, jewelboxes, miniature fishing boats and horse-drawn cabs, the Maltese Cross and dolphins.