Forget the fireworks, the petards, the band marches and the saints. Forget teenagers, clad in red, blue or green and hot pants, getting totally sloshed in the scorching Maltese summer sun to honour a saint they probably know in name only while giving the saint in the next village all kind of titles one does not really find in the Vatican’s hand book. If that is what you thought Maltese summers have to offer then you are wrong, very wrong.
I am a feast aficionado myself so I do not mean to belittle village feasts in any way, nor do I want to discard the effort of those who work so hard to produce pyrotechnic shows of such grandeur sometimes at great personal sacrifice. There is much more to feasts than drunken youth and silly banter; like there is much more to see explore and experience during Maltese summers.
We are blessed with a summer season that is the envy of many and as such I think we ought to make the best of it. Days idling on the beach can become boring after a while and if only we could stop for a while and take a look at what this island has to offer we could be in for a pleasant surprise.
Our kids have become too tech dependant and social media obsessed and maybe with some planning and goodwill, we could make their summers much more interesting, informative and varied. Whilst almost everyone knows that this island was ruled by the British and the knights of St.John, few have visited the historic sites that are reminiscent of those eras that are so important and that have left an indelible imprint in our history. I have always felt that we Maltese do not know enough about our history, about what made us what we are, and I think that the onus lies on us adults to make this information more accessible to our children.
This little island of ours is riddled with historic sites related to the times of the Romans, Moors, French and obviously the Brits and knights. Once introduced to these kinds of outings I am positively sure that our younger generation will want to know more, and will subsequently start to identify more with what makes us the nation that we are today. Most of these sites are open daily and students do not even have to pay to visit. Furthermore, most of these sites have been upgraded and offer interactive experiences to those who visit. When considering that the Neolithic temples on our islands are even older than the much acclaimed Stonehenge, it is indeed a pity that the vast majority have never visited or maybe visited fleetingly during some badly organized school or church outing.
Many of us visit Valletta regularly, but how many times have we been to a museum in our capital? When we visit foreign cities we all make it a point to do so, and yet, we are not aware of the hidden gems that we have on offer here right at home. A change in mentality is needed, with all the academic competition that our children are exposed to, they have little or no time for extracurricular activities and summer offers an opportunity to make this right.
It takes some effort to get the ball rolling and to take the tablet away from our kids’ clutch for a few hours but I am sure that they will be thanking us for it once they get the hang of it. It is never easy to move away from one’s comfort zone, but change is many a time beneficial.
Evenings can be interesting too with all that is being organized. This week only, there were two major concerts on the granaries and those who had the opportunity to attend know too well that it was worth the while. It is easy to open a can of beer and watch television all evening and the intense heat may make it difficult to move more than a few meters away from the comforting chill of the air conditioner, but rest assured that those who experienced the BBC orchestra playing earlier this week felt a totally different kind of chill that made the trip to the granaries worth the effort.
One must not try to fit everything in one week or two, a museum or a field trip a week should be fine for starters, I am sure that as the interest starts to build it will be the children themselves who will start looking forward to these experiences. It will help in giving our future generation the opportunity to look at this island of ours from a different point of view and hopefully give it more respect than it has been given so far.