Carnival in Gozo
The piousness of the Gozitans is well known. Religion has been a source of succour in times of strife, unifying the Gozitans in their faith (except for the friendly Festa rivalries), so it’s little wonder that the Islanders take their religious festivities so seriously.
From Easter to the Festa season, from the feast of The Assumption of Mary to Christmas, Gozitans are out in droves expressing their devotion through marches, prayer, and celebration.
The Carnival celebrations, a high-point throughout the Maltese Archipelago, hold important significance for the people of Gozo. Interestingly, there are two sides to the celebrations here. While the main one is held at it-Tokk , the market place in the Island’s capital Victoria, it’s doppelganger is celebrated in a tiny hamlet called Nadur. The former is typical of the Carnival celebrations held on mainland Malta. Festivities span an entire week and include a variety of activities such as floats, parades, and the obligatory street food stalls. Carnival competitions are also common place as is street dancing and celebrity appearances.
However, it’s celebrations at Nadur that brought notoriety to the Gozitan Carnival. To the uninitiated, the Nadur Carnival is a macabre experience, with hooded party-goers performing bizarre acts in the streets, including dressing up as a doctor and acting out an amputation, carrying around dead animals in cages, and flinging of cooked food into the crowds. The celebrations represent a cathartic release for the locals, who endure hardships synonymous with rural life on a tiny, sun-scorched island.
It’s this experience of hardship that spurs the infamous, over-the-top revelry, where the aim seems more to shock onlookers than anything else. Apart from this bizarre aspect, the Nadur Carnival also includes some more tame celebrations, with street bands, and quaint bars offering refreshments served on tables in the middle of the cordoned off roads.