The friendliness and warm hospitality of the Maltese people has been well documented. Perhaps the best recognition of this is found in the Holy Bible. The story of St Paul's shipwreck in Malta in 60 AD is described in Chapter 28 of the Acts by St Luke, himself a survivor of the event:
"We soon learned that we were on the island of Malta. The people of the island were very kind to us, building a bonfire on the beach to welcome and warm us in the rain and cold." - Acts 28:1-2
Visitors to the island have echoed this glowing endorsement of Maltese hospitality.
Who are the Maltese?
There are various opinions about the Maltese race. Some regard their ancestry linked back to the Phoenicians, who were arguably the greatest traders and sailors of the ancient world. Others emphasise their European extraction, many have surnames of Italian origin.
The Maltese are a race of ethnic mix resulting from its strategic location in the Mediterranean Sea and a series of foreign dominations.
The Maltese have highly individual qualities. They have been described as being hardworking and cheerful, enterprising and shrewd, sometimes emotional and excitable, and, above all, great lovers of home and family.
Religion plays an important role in Maltese life. While there is complete freedom of religion in Malta, the vast majority of Maltese are Roman Catholics.
One traditional expression of religious belief is the festa. Each town and village celebrates the local patron saint's day by decorating the parish church and local streets with hangings, flowers and other ornaments, illuminating the streets, and conducting colourful processions, with brass bands and fireworks to finish off a memorable annual event.