The Commissions and Committees, many of whom have the responsibility of organising the external festivities for village feasts, have found themselves in a situation which they never expected. Their warehouses are packed with decorations, but there are no feasts.
Like many other activities, feasts this year have ended up victims of COVID-19. We visited warehouses which belongs to two committees for external feasts. We found the same environment. They are packed to the gills with decorations but there is a pervading silence which cuts like a knife. Mario Coleiro, the Chairman for the Committee for External Feasts in Santa Venera, said that his committee, like all the others around the islands, depend completely on these activities to collect funds to organise the feast.
“I was happy to learn that band clubs were helped to cope with their expenses, which was the right thing to do, however the feasts are not just the band clubs. It is these types of committees and organisations which take care of the decorations, many of which are linked to the Church while others are independent, which are going to find themselves in ruin because of this crisis.”
Mr Coleiro, said that without financial aid, such as was given to band clubs, the committees will find it very difficult to continue with their work. In all there are around 70 feasts in the Maltese islands which reach their peak between May and September. He said that all the expenses to organise a feast, including fireworks, decorations, the bands and the functions comes to around 200,000 Euro.
At the warehouse of the Committee of External Festivities of St George the Martyr, we found the Committee Secretary, Lawrence Zammit, who came to give a helping hand.
“Right now you will not find any donations or benefactors. We rely on them and on fund-raising. We do not have any other income.”
This is the first summer and hopefully the last one, when the festa season will remain silent and churches and the streets will not be decorated. It is an unexpected, challenging time, but the volunteers we spoke to are eager to roll up their sleeves to celebrate their feast once this is over.