[WATCH] Greasy does it! St Julian’s Gostra competition wraps up

Competitors run up the Gostra greasy pole to catch one of the tricolor flags - last event is Sunday afternoon at 5pm

Gotcha! The first winner of Saturday's event clinches one of the three flags atop the Gostra pole
Gotcha! The first winner of Saturday's event clinches one of the three flags atop the Gostra pole
Greasy does it! St Julian’s Gostra competition wraps up

One of summer’s great delights comes to an end this afternoon in St Julian’s, with the last round of the Gostra greasy pole competition.

A mainstay of the feast of St Julian’s, the Gostra yesterday had its third event as competitors ran up the tricolour rail in a bid to clinch one of the three flags at the end of the greasy pole.

Its organiser is the untiring Simon Bugeja, whose father organised the event for over 50 years before he took over the reins.

Every year, spectators line St Julian’s Spinola bay to watch the traditional gostra, where 10-12 competitors run along an upward-inclined 10-metre long lard-plastered pole in an effort to win various prizes.

Bugeja’s passion stems from his father, Nazju Bugeja, whose name is “synonymous with gostra”, according to a 2012 study by Manoel Pirotta. Nazju’s passion motivated young Simon, who vividly remembers his father’s work on the yearly event. “[Simon’s] job is to keep the tradition alive, just like his father wanted,” Pirotta says.

St. Julian’s commemorated Nazju’s work on the fifth year anniversary of his death, when Simon commissioned band director Pirotta to write a band march entitled “Nazju Tal-Gostra”.

Bugeja starts preparing the lard that is smeared over the pole, months in advance of the day. Preparations take around two to three months to be completed, after the organising team makes the necessary arrangements for awards and for permits.

Three flags line the lard-covered pole and contestants tread the pole to capture the flags at various stages. Each of the flags on the gostra pole has a religious meaning – the blue and white flag represents the Holy Mary, the yellow and white flag shows the Vatican standard, and the Belgian tricolor represents the alleged homeland of St Julian. 

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