The 13th December marks a very special day on the Maltese calendar, Republic Day! Discover more about the historic significance of this day.
If you are considering booking flights to Malta for a winter break, then be sure to include the 13th of December in your travel itinerary. Why be so specific with dates you ask? So you can be there to enjoy the celebrations of Republic Day of course!
What is Republic Day?
Republic Day in Malta traces its history back to the 13th of December 1974, when the country ceased to call Queen Elizabeth II their monarch, and head of state.
Maltese citizens decided, via a vote, to become a part of the British Empire after Great Britain liberated them from the French occupiers during the Napoleonic wars. The French soldiers had previously taken the Maltese Islands from the Knights of St John, but becoming tired of their rule, the Maltese welcomed the Brits with open arms. During the British rule, Malta flourished and became an important strategic outpost throughout the years, up until the end of WWII.
By 1964, the Maltese negotiated their independence from the British Empire and instead became a part of the Commonwealth with the Queen still in place as the head of state. When the Malta Labour Party won the elections in 1971, they pushed the concept of turning Malta into a republic with a president leading the country. Then, on December 13th 1974, Malta’s constitution was drastically altered and it transitioned into a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations and Sir Anthony Mamo became the first President of the Republic of Malta.
What happens on Republic Day?
The Maltese celebrate their transition into a Republic in extremely flamboyant style. The capital city of Valletta, and Marsa – a small town just outside of Valletta – are completely transformed into areas of great jubilation.
The President of Malta presents awards to citizens that are deserving of it due to personal successes, or meritorious service that has brought honour to their country. There are also wreath laying ceremonies at various monuments, and you can enjoy several military parades through the capital.
The Annual Band Concert at the Manoel Theater in Valletta is also a must see. The concert consists of different bands from each town or village taking centre stage to play a mix of traditional and modern band marches. The celebrations are highlighted with impressive firework displays that illuminate the Grand Harbour between Marsa and Valletta. The event is also a public holiday with most citizens taking the day to enjoy celebrations with friends and family.
If you are lucky enough to be in Malta around this time, it is highly advisable to make sure you partake in some of the ongoing celebrations. It gives visitors a unique opportunity to experience the pride exulted by the Maltese, as well as observing what good parties they throw! With events going on into the early hours in Valletta, you will find a lot to keep you entertained!