The need for a book in English about the Christmas crib in Malta has long been felt. This book offers readers, including visitors to Malta, historical and cultural information about the development and characteristics of the local crib. It contains a number of illustrations, many of which are exclusive to this publication.
The author is a member of the Society of Christian Doctrine (M.U.S.E.U.M.) who has carried out extensive archival research. He was awarded the Il-Midalja għall-Qadi tar-Repubblika and the Croce Dell’Ordine Al Merito Melitense for his contribution to the Malta Maritime Museum and for his research on the navy of the Order of St John.
‘”The oldest known Maltese crib, which dates back to 1826, is that found in Saint Peter’s Monastery, in Mdina. This large static crib is very well kept and is fundamental for the study of antique Maltese cribs.
Peder Pavels refers to a crib he saw when he visited Valletta in 1797. Most probably he was walking along Merchants’ Street, considering that he was invited by a well-known merchant to visit his house where Pavels noticed a Maltese type of crib. On 14th January 1797 he wrote in his diary that the crib was made of gagazza, and included a grotto, shepherds with their sheep and stars. He also noticed a windmill, water flowing in a stream, as well as some other details. The windmill and the star later became important elements in a Maltese crib.
Although Pavels did not include too many details in his description of the Maltese crib, he provides some important information. The fact that he mentions the gagazza (small pieces of rustic stone common in Xagħra, Gozo) suggests that the crib could be dismounted after the Christmas festivities. This also had the advantage that the owner could build different types of cribs each year. It also means that the figurines stood on their bases and were not fixed to the crib. Moreover, such pasturi could be put in different places every year. This is the first large Maltese-made crib that is mentioned in writing and includes the principal characters of the Maltese crib.”