After 70 years of absence, a man returns to Malta and its traditions

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When Richard Cumbo returned to Malta for Christmas for the first time in 70 years, he was pleasantly surprised to find nativity scenes in all parts of the island and he hopes the nativity scenes will not be replaced by festive trees like this. happened in Canada, the place he calls home.

Born in Malta to Mary and Joseph, Cumbo moved to Canada in 1951 when he was almost four years old.

Although he has visited Malta several times since then, the closest he has ever known to a Maltese Christmas were the stories his loved ones told between sips of imbuljuta, a tradition that has been kept alive. by emigrants to Toronto.

“Celebrating Christmas here made me think of my family back then and how they must have come together to celebrate this important event.

“Over the years, I have often heard how elaborately decorated churches, streets, houses and shops are,” said the curator of a Maltese-Canadian museum in Toronto. Malta timetables during a trip to his “second home”.

“Well I found out it’s true the islands are really beautiful this time of year. What I love most is that the religious aspect of Christmas is kept alive through the nativity scenes seen across the islands.

“In Toronto, the only place you would see a manger is inside and, in some cases, outside of Roman Catholic churches. What you see in the front gardens of some people are signs that say “Keep Christ on Christmas”.

And while he thinks his first Maltese – and sunny – Christmas in 70 years is true enough to the tales he’s heard over the years, he’s noticed one addition that didn’t feature much in Christmases of the past: the party tree.

He sincerely hopes that over the years he will not replace the nursery in Maltese homes.

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