What does your traditional Christmas dinner consist of?

Merry Christmas to you, loyal followers of my blog posts.

Have you ever thought how Christmas was celebrated a few decades ago?  What was a traditional Christmas dinner like? On the spur of the moment, I thought I’d have a quick look at Christmas in Malta, not so long ago.

At the time, Malta being a devoutly Catholic country, Christmas centred around ecclesiastical celebrations.  In the run up to Christmas, young children participated (some still do, today) in a procession around the village (il-purcissjoni tal-bambin), carrying a figure of the baby Jesus and singing Christmas carols along the way.

Baby Jesus, black treacle rings and imbuljuta

The Christmas crib and baby Jesus were typical decorations of every household with midnight mass, on Christmas eve, being the highlight of Christmas celebrations.  During this mass, a young boy was chosen to deliver a heart-felt Christmas sermon.  Another tradition that’s still around, to this day.

A tradition which seems to have died over the years is the traditional Maltese Christmas meal.  Turkey was not always on the Christmas menu.  In most  families, the Christmas menu consisted of a fattened capon (ħasi) accompanied with baked potatoes (patata l-forn) and a selection of seasonal vegetables.  Very often, the big bird and potatoes were cooked – kind-of baked but not exactly roasted – in a very large, tailor-made dish. On Christmas day, in the morning, housewives and husbands alike would take their dishes to the local bakery – home ovens were not large enough to cook the traditional Christmas meal. Crusty, local bread was typically served with the meal to mop up the juices from the bird and potatoes.  Usually, vegetables were cooked at home.

The main course was followed by a pastry ring stuffed with black treacle.  Nowadays, these traditional sweets, known as treacle rings (qagħaq tal-għasel), are found at local confectioneries, but they do not necessarily form part of the Christmas meal.  They’re more likely to be served at tea time.

As if that wasn’t enough, the traditional Christmas meal would end with a thick, warm drink of stewed chestnuts and cocoa (imbuljuta tal-qastan).  The warm, thick, chocolaty beverage was also the go to drink after midnight mass and throughout the cold, winter months.

I remember my mother cooking a traditional Maltese Christmas lunch.  What was Christmas lunch like, when you were younger?

My thanks go to

Azure.com – Top 5 Christmas Customs in Malta
A Maltese Mouthful

Image:  Introduzzjoni ghall-ikel u nbid ta’ Malta – Puligraf Publishing





Watermelon: more than just a fruit

During the hot summer months, chilled watermelon is one of the most refreshing fruits you can think of.  Here in Malta, families and friends organise beach BBQs throughout summer.  They make the most of the balmy summer evenings with picnic coolers full of food – meat, fish, salads, beer, wine, nuts etc. – and head to their favourite beach (which is only a short distance away).

If the evening is hot and sticky they go for a dip before they light up … the smell of smoked food fills the air.  They eat and drink … and as the last cinders die out between the charcoal, out comes the watermelon from the cooler.  It is cut up in slices and everyone helps themselves.  They’re stuffed, but no BBQ is complete without the sweet, refreshing taste of a ripe watermelon.

Fruit or Veg?

Watermelon is generally thought of as a fruit.  But, according to some interesting facts I came across, watermelon is also a vegetable. It is related to cucumbers, pumpkin and squash.  Did you know you can eat the seeds and the rind of the watermelon?  I have never tried it myself, but studies show that if you blitz the rind with lime juice, you end up with a very refreshing treat full of the amino-acid Citrulline which, is very good for your heart and to maintain your immune system.

In Southern United States, the rind is stir-fried, stewed or pickled and in the Vietnamese culture, the seeds of the watermelon are used in the New Year.

Do you know where the watermelon came from?

GeoffreyNdung’u - watermelon in fields

It was the Moors who introduced the watermelon to Europe.  The fruit is a native of South Africa where it grows wild.  In the second millennium BC, it was grown around the Nile Valley and seeds of the watermelon were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Today, China is the biggest producer of watermelons.

There are more than 1200 varieties of watermelon.  The size of a fruit ranges from under one kilogram to over 90.  The flesh and the rind vary in colour.  The flesh of the watermelon comes in red, orange, yellow or white and the rind comes in yellow, dark green stripped and other colours.

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Is watermelon good for you?

Watermelon is 91% water but it is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and lycopene – a carotenoid antioxidant which decreases the risk of strokes and has potential anti-cancer activity.

Watermelon has a number of health benefits, which makes it good for you, but as always, eat it in moderation.  Go easy cause watermelon contains plenty of sugar (fructose).

How can you use watermelon?

Watermelon can be used both as dessert and as a salad ingredient.

It goes very well with herbs such as mint and basil and it also works well with certain types of cheeses.  Try this three melon and mozzarella salad or this Asian burger with minted watermelon.

For a refreshing drink, try this watermelon-lime cooler or watermelon jelly.  And for the little ones … how about watermelon lime ginger pops?

Keep cool this summer with one of nature’s gifts – a thirsty-quenching, refreshing watermelon.

If you would like to find out more about the health benefits of watermelons, go to 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Watermelon by Dr Mercola or for interesting facts check out Watermelon on Wiki.


My thanks go to:

  • Mercola.com
  • Wikipedia
  • Google images

Fruit and Vegetable Festival

On Sunday morning I went to the fruit and vegetable festival in Zebbiegh (Malta).  I had to ask how to get there! Never mind … There were stalls with very old bric-a-brac, an elderly woman spinning sheep’s wool, live folklore singers, old trucks and cars on show, a section for animals and, as one would expect, stalls with fresh fruit and veg grown in the area.

Fruit & Veg Festival (5), iz-Zebbiegh, Malta

The festival

The festival is organised by the farming community of Mgarr, Malta (there’s also Mgarr Harbour in Gozo).  It’s a very small fest and cannot be compared to similar festivals abroad. I did not count the number of stalls, but off the top of my head, I’d say there were no more than 10 selling fruit and veg. But it was worth the trip … nice crisp lettuce, picked from the fields earlier on that morning, bright green broccoli, marrows, field tomatoes, potatoes, onions, strawberries, peppers, melons … a rainbow of colours … everything so crisp and fresh … and at a good price too!


Local produce

Mgarr is a rural village located in the north of the island of Malta.  It is renowned, across the Maltese Islands for its agricultural produce.  Mgarr is one of the few places, in Malta, where fresh water springs are found and the soil in the area is, kind-of, reddish brown. The fruit and veg grown here taste so much better than produce growing elsewhere on the island, where treated water is used.  The Mgarr strawberries are the cream of the crop!

Fruit & Veg Festival (6), iz-Zebbiegh, MaltaI was not the only one who planned to get my weekly fruit and veg from the fest.   The vegetable stalls were so busy; everyone choosing the best they find.

For some reason, I seem to have an affinity with food markets – big or small!