Mnarja

Mnarja (Imnarja; Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul)

June 29
Mnarja is the principal folk festival of Malta and a public holiday there, thought to have been originally a harvest festival. It is held in Buskett Gardens, a park with extensive vineyards and orange and lemon orchards not far from Mdina, Malta's medieval capital. The name of the festival is a corruption of the Italian luminaria, meaning "illumination," since in long-ago times, the bastions around Mdina were illuminated by bonfires for the event. At one time, Mnarja was such a popular and important feast that a husband traditionally promised his bride on their wedding day that he would take her to Buskett on Mnarja Day every year.
Festivities begin on the eve of Mnarja with an agricultural show that continues through the next morning and folk-singing ( ghana ) and folk-music competitions. The traditional food of the evening is fried rabbit. On the following day, bareback horse and donkey races bring the feast to an end. The winners receive paljj, "embroidered banners," which they donate to their town church.
See also St. Paul's Shipwreck, Feast of; Sts. Peter and Paul Day
CONTACTS:
Malta National Tourist Office
65 Broadway, Ste. 823
New York, NY 10006
212-430-3799; fax: 425-795-3425
www.visitmalta.com
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 108
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 408
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