Carnival Week is undoubtedly
one of the most colourful events in the Maltese calendar. The Carnival
provides five days of revelry with many dressing up in colourful
costumes and covering their faces with masks in the many towns and
villages. Gozo is no exception and organises its edition of the
Carnival celebrations are tightly knitted in Maltese
folklore. It has been celebrated in Malta since the arrival of the
Knights of St. John in 1530, but some studies even date the first
carnival revelry back to the year 1470. Up until 1751, carnival
was an activity exclusive to Valletta. By tradition, the Maltese
have had valid excuses to mark carnival for hundreds of years and
the celebrations have come a long way since.
In Gozo, the main activities take place in It-Tokk,
the main square in Gozo's capital Victoria.
However, a particular event, which takes place in Nadur,
defies the official definition of a standardised Carnival activity
such as those held in Valletta and Victoria.
the purposes of costume is disguise, in other words, simply not
to be recognised. Consequently grotesquely disguised crowds overrun
the streets; the costumes consisting mainly of haphazard, coarse
guises made of sack, sheets, wigs and incongruous make-up. The local
participants are often silent for most of the time in order to make
sure that they remain unidentified - so much so that is sometimes
referred to as the Silent Carnival. The floats lose much of the
grandeur, which the Valletta carnival accords them, and are often
no more than carts released from their ubiquitous role on the farms
and brought to the streets of Nadur.
Within this absurd set-up it is not uncommon to catch
sight of placards with ambiguous, snide remarks daubed in paint
directed at both private and public personalities, which in order
to avoid being regarded as libellous are often veiled reference,
very difficult to gauge for first-time visitors.