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Author: Melisande Aquilina

Prehistory in the Maltese Islands

Maltese Prehistory is a very long period of about 4,000 years, basically from 5,200B.C to 725B.C. During this period, the Maltese Islands came to be inhabited by people of different cultures. Generally, Maltese Prehistory is divided into three consecutive periods. The Neolithic Period spans from 5,200B.C to 4,100BC, the Temple Period from 4,100B.C to 2,500B.C and the Bronze Age spanning from 2,500B.C to 725B.C. The dates appearing above are approximate. All the dates we find in Maltese history are largely based on the ceramic styles and typology of the Prehistoric pottery remains found locally. However, these dates are reliable...

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L-Għonnella

Known locally as ‘għonnella’, ‘faldetta’, ‘ċulqana’, or even ‘stamijna’, this traditional characteristic symbol of Maltese heritage was a kind of female headgear which resembled a cape or shawl, and which used to be worn by women of the islands of Malta. The ‘għonnella’, which many folklore writers consider to be a traditional Maltese costume, can be described as a large hood made of rich silk or cotton stiffened at the top by means of cardboard, cane or whalebone. Part of the ‘għonnella’ rested over the head like a cloak or hood, while the rest was held by hands at...

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The Order of the Knights of Saint John in Malta

The coming of the Knights of Saint John to Malta in 1530 brought with it a radical change in every aspect of Maltese life. For the Maltese, this meant the beginning of a new era, and one can say that during this period the islands developed not only from the political viewpoint, but also with regards to the economic and social aspects. During this period of 268 years, especially after 1565, the Maltese population increased, Maltese economy became more diversified, while the social level of the Maltese inhabitants developed to a very high degree. It was also during this...

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Enjoying Ricotta!

When I look back to my memories of childhood, it is amazing how many of these have, in some way or other, links with Maltese food containing ricotta (‘irkotta’). Maltese cooks in fact use ricotta, which is a smooth creamy dairy product, to create both sweet and savoury dishes. There’s ricotta pie of course, and cheesecakes (‘pastizzi’), ricotta can be eaten as a snack or as a starter or even a main course, with Italian pasta, and in numerous desserts and pastries like kannoli or Cassatella Siciliana. Our grandmothers used to fill us up with ricotta when we were...

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Saint Martin’s Feast

‘Ġewż, lewż, qastan, tin, kemm inħobbu l’San Martin!’ (‘Walnuts, Almonds, Chestnuts, Figs, I really love Saint Martin’) This very old children’s rhyme shows the spirit and excitement pervading this Maltese traditional feast. Historically, Saint Martin’s Feast was considered to be a favourite with children because it was one of the very few times when a religious feast involved such food treats. In fact, there exist a number of traditional Maltese games involving nuts. Like ‘Boċċi’, where children used hazelnuts instead of marble balls, or ‘bunbun – mamma’, which involved the use of large marbles hitting smaller nuts. Children saved...

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