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History of Maltese Fireworks

Fireworks in Malta have a long tradition which is centuries old. Indeed the craft of pyrotechnics in Malta goes back to the time of the Order of the Knights of St John.  The Order which was conventual, aristocratic and military used to celebrate the most important feasts by special pyrotechnic displays. Such firework displays were an expression of rejoicing on special occasions, such as the election of a Grand Master or a Pope, as well as on the birth of a prince.

 

Pyrotechnics must have been inspired by cannon shots and musket fire.  The feu de joie which was a salute by the musketeers produced a celebratory welcome to any dignitary. From this developed the musketterija which today is a series of hundreds of explosions of crackers firing in rapid succession. These are attached to a string placed on the roof top of a church or other large building.    

 

The solfarelli d'aria were a series of colourful weak shots fired in quick succession into the sky, The Jigjifogooh (Italian: gioco di fuoco) is better known as St Catherines wheels (irdieden).  This is a mechanized and rotating set of wheels attached to a pole on the ground which provide a rotating movement for the burning gas tubes. This centuries-old tradition is still very much alive in the crowded calendar of village festas that take place all over Malta and Gozo. Were you to fly to Malta any time between June and mid-September you will be surprised to find that firework displays is taking place practically every weekend starting on Friday.

 

There are some 35 fireworks factories and double that number of towns and villages where these displays are part of the traditional celebrations of patron saints.   In between these celebrations there occur unfortunately also periods of mourning. This is related to the accidental death of pyro-technicians whose life is cut short by unexpected explosion mishaps during the course of the preparatory work.

 

Still fireworks production in Malta is an all year round occupation for enthusiasts which will fascinates thousands of people both Maltese as well as foreign.