[WATCH] Is Halloween in Malta really ‘more popular than carnival’?

In the last six years, Halloween's popularity has blown up in Malta... but is it really more popular than carnival? And are people happy about this? MaltaToday spoke to shop-keepers and also took to the streets of Valletta to ask people what they thought of this celebration

Is Halloween in Malta really ‘more popular than carnival’?

When did shop owners decide it was time to stock their shelves with skeletons, witch hats and pumpkin-spiced cookies?

They can’t be blamed. After all, excited children likely began raiding their stores on the search for the perfect ghoul costume weeks ago.

But how did Halloween, a celebration commonly associated with all things dark and ghoulish, start being celebrated in a Catholic stronghold like Malta?

According to popular toy shop Juniors, Halloween today is “even more popular than carnival”.

Most stores noted a rise in popularity between six and seven years ago, and though many have welcomed the celebration with open arms, some people still have their doubts.

(Photo: Facebook/Jp Barthet)
(Photo: Facebook/Jp Barthet)

Such as Edgar Preca, the husband of the President of the Republic Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, who believes Halloween is a satanic holiday. “Let’s educate our children and ourselves to this practice, and maybe end it once and for all,” he recently said.

His sentiment, though on a milder level, is shared by the management of toy store the Model Shop. While admitting that Halloween celebrations have been all the rage in Malta, especially over the last few years, they refuse to stock any Halloween-related products, including costumes, creepy face paint and the like.

“We’re Christians and in theory, we just don’t agree with the concept, so Halloween is the only line we don’t stock,” a store mamager said.

PartyTime owner, Stephen Cassar, on the other hand, has different ideas, saying “Halloween is a big deal for us”.

“People are much more adventurous with their costumes and decorations, and the Halloween requests are endless,” he said. “Over the past six years, it’s become about as popular as carnival I would say”.

In spite of receiving pressure to take down Halloween products, the managing director of Mecca Enterprises, Nichol Chetcuti did no such thing. 

“We got a lot of resistance from the church. We received calls, messages and letters. They even called us Satanists,” he said.

Is it just toy store owners who have embraced ‘AllHallows Eve’?

Not at all. Just ask Swieqi resident J P Barthet, who with his wife Johanna, hosts a haunted Trick or Treat walk in their garage and the surrounding garden area every year.

What started as a mere alternative to the run-of-the-mill ringing of doorbells and collecting of sweets six years ago, Barthet’s event has since taken the town by a storm, with over 3,000 people taking part. Entry is free though a small donation would be appreciated, as all proceeds go towards the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. 

(Photo: Facebook/Jp Barthet)
(Photo: Facebook/Jp Barthet)

In Malta, as is observed in primarily Western regions of the world, 31 October has become synonymous with partying, (seemingly) harmless pranks, sweet collecting and the scaring of your friendly neighbours. 

And the truth is that whether you plan on embracing it for all its worth, giving kids sweets and dressing up as one of the twins from The Shining or closing your doors off to anything remotely spooky, Halloween doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.