Sunday, 1 April 2018

Easter Blessings

The statue of the Risen Christ being carried in procession
Easter is of course a happy and colorful event which starts with the blessing of the fire, new water and usually baptisms of babies. Since everyone in Malta is Catholic, we do not normally have any converts or catechumens to be received into the Church, but recently they do have occasionally a foreigner who lives in Malta who decides to become Catholic, and these are usually baptized at the Easter Vigil. On the morning of Easter, yet another procession is held in many parishes, this time with a statue of the Risen Christ. This is a much shorter procession, but those carrying the statue usually run with it just before re-entering the church, to accentuate the festive mood.
Children receive Easter eggs with some toys, but the most traditional treat is what is called a figolla. This is a pastry that is filled with almond paste, and then decorated with sugar icing, and made in various shapes, hearts, baskets, boys and girls, crosses, birds, rabbits, ducks and other shapes, as long as the middle section is fat, so that the filling is bulky. Right after Easter, there is another tradition that is very popular and meaningful. Parish priests visit all the houses and bless them as they meet the families, talk with them, meet new residents and most importantly recognize any problems so that they can help the families in need. There is usually a schedule printed so that the people would know when the priest is coming to their homes, and parents make sure everyone is together awaiting the priest’s visit, children and all.
The Easter season continues with color and flowers adorning the churches, especially since this is spring and the winter rainy season usually brings forth a plentiful supply of flowers, blossoms and decorative foliage, which people use to decorate their homes and churches. But most importantly, this is a very solemn and holy time of the year which is accentuated by reverent and well-prepared liturgies.

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