Sure, it took a global pandemic, but we’ll finally get a chance at some peace in summer

The Skinny | No 28. No Village Feasts in the Time of Corona

An example of a COVID-19 hazard
An example of a COVID-19 hazard

What are we skinning? The Curia’s directive to suspend all summer festas until 2021 due to health concerns relating to covid-19.

Why are we skinning it? Because festas are such an integral part of Maltese culture that their suspension truly reminds us how the coronavirus pandemic has pushed us beyond the pale. Picture the scene: no band marches and ‘briju’ – just Sunday High Mass, followed by a solemn procession behind the village statue.

A bit like the lotto being cancelled then. In a way, yes. But while the lotto is certainly a mainstay of local culture, it doesn’t beat the festa when it comes to religio-social significance and community cohesion.

But surely it’s a bit premature to cancel all summer festas from now? Aren’t we holding out for the virus to dissipate before then? Holding out is the key word. Festa preparations are part of the festa experience, and they often happen months in advance.

I’m imagining the Archbishop, and perhaps other members of the more conservative wing of the Curia, secretly rubbing their hands in glee at this opportunity. Some have made that argument already, and yes, it’s a tempting narrative.

It’s the only real ‘narrative’ we can have at this point, really. I wouldn’t really say so.

Why? Well, maybe suspending festas will allow us to either appreciate them more, or to try and understand how they can be made more efficient or manageable in a way that caters to the needs of the entire population rather than just festa enthusiasts.

But efficiency isn’t the hallmark of festas! Noise, spontaneity and general chaos is! Do you really think we’ll all be in the mood for chaos any time soon?

Not right now, no. Okay, but it’s your turn to picture a scene. Imagine the day when all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Imagine the jubilation, imagine people’s lust to go outside and celebrate this simple fact.

True that. We may have to invent a saint just to commemorate that very day.

Do say: “It’s important to allow time for grief and reflection. Yes, having no feasts is a source of genuine grief to many enthusiasts, and even perhaps subconscious grief to the wider Maltese population, who will experience their absence as yet another example of how we’re forced to adapt to a new normal.”

Don’t say: “Sure, it took a global pandemic, but we’ll finally get a chance at some peace, quiet and smooth traffic flows over the summer months!”

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