Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/96

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8o Collectanea.

ing lighted lamps in their hands, led by the " Papas," and followed by the image — proceeds through some of the principal streets of

Valletta When the procession arrives at the small church

of Vittoria the bearers of the image halt awhile ; all at once the way is cleared and a general run is taken with the image as far as the walls of the city. This run is repeated three or four times at different parts of the town. Easter eggs, figolla, and round cheese cakes are given. The figolla consists of a bit of flat baked dough, cut in the shape of a woman, a turk, an eagle, a horse, a star, or a basket, with one or more eggs, having the shell stained red, or some other colour, embedded in its centre, fixed in position by cross-bands of paste.

Ascension Day. — The custom of making swings on Ascension Day is very common in Malta, especially among the country people.

On St Martin's Day children are given bags of hazelnuts, chest- nuts, figs, sweets, &c., and a roll studded with hazelnut-kernels and covered all over with sesame. The most favourite game for children on this occasion is what they call " ta'l castell " . . . . three nuts are put near each other, topped by a fourth. They each arrange two or three of these castles in rows, and keep throwing by turns — everyone wins the castle he succeeds in hitting and demoUshing.

Christmas Eve. — The approaching festival of Christmas is heralded in some of the villages of Malta by the appearance of zakk or tambour players in the streets. The zakk is a wind instru- ment, formed of an inflated dogskin, which is held by the player under under his left arm, with the legs directed upwards, and having a mouthpiece by which the skin is filled, and a cane flute or pipe which is played with both hands. This the country people play at this time of the year, to represent the shepherds of Bethlehem.

Marriages in Malta were always entirely arranged by the parents ; who for the greater part, consulted only their own interest and the suitableness of the connection, without at all consulting the inclinations of their children. The articles of the contract having been settled and the marriage portion agreed upon, the young man sent his intended bride a present consisting of a certain fish ornamented with garlands of ribbon, with a ring or some costly jewel in its mouth. The first interview was then