St Martin’s Festival of Traditions – Cultural event for all ages at the Citadel
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St Martin’s Festival of Traditions, is a cultural family fest of traditions, folklore, music and gastronomy, taking place at the Citadel in Victoria, Gozo, on Sunday, the 17th of November.
This Festival is being held as part of the programme of events being held over the ‘Free Travel to Gozo’ weekend taking place on the 15th, 16th and 17th of November, with free Gozo Channel trips for passengers and vehicles, (excluding commercial vehicles), between Friday, the 15th at 7.30pm and Monday, the 18th at 01.15am.
The programme for St Martin’s Festival of Traditions on Sunday, the 17th of November, is as follows:
9.00am: Traditional Gozitan Breakfast with live traditional music and stalls with traditional food products on St John’s Demi-Bastion, Cittadella. Pre-booking is recommended on Tel:22156700, or by email on email@example.com.
10.00am: Drama and animation for Children at the Cittadella Centre for Culture and Arts.
10.30am: Lecture ‘Gozo During the World Wars’ by Charles Bezzina at the War Shelters, Castle Hill, Victoria.
2.00pm onwards: Traditional local games for Children, Drama and animation and stalls with traditional food products on St John Demi-Bastion, Cittadella.
In Maltese culture, St Martin’s feast is celebrated on the Sunday closest to the 11th November, in the village of Bahrija, where an annual fair and small procession takes place.
It occurs at a time when walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and dried figs are found aplenty in Malta, and hence the saying “hazelnuts, almonds, chestnuts, figs – oh how I love St Martin.” St Martin of Tours was a Roman soldier, who was converted to Christianity in his adulthood following a dream which he had after helping out a poor man on the street.
There are many traditional recipes related to the feast with the “Torta ta San Martin” (St Martin’s Tart) and “Il-Borza ta’ San Martin” (St Martin’s Bag), being the most common. All recipes feature a mixture of figs, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and oranges. The “Borza ta San Martin” was and is still very popular with children as they receive a bag full of the assorted nuts (still in their shells), fruits which include oranges, tangerines and pomegranates and sweets.
The bags were also decorated for the occasion, and the larger and fuller they were was a reflection of wealth by the giver.