Malta’s Carnival 2012 runs from 17 - 21 February, 2012. It dates back several hundred years to the 16th century when Maltese and the Knights of St John would hold a week-long event leading up to Ash Wednesday. Carnival’s history in Malta is well documented; it's always been a key festivity in the religious calendar in Malta. While encouraged at first, its growing rowdiness and wild festivities made some Grand Masters curtail and even censure it in various periods.
Some aspects of the darker sides of carnival’s history – the macabre and the grotesque – live on. The Nadur carnival in Gozo, one of the only surviving spontaneous (rather than totally organised) carnivals today, definitely includes some elements of its historic darker side.
If you do delve into the history of Malta’s carnival though, you’ll find the debate about its returning to its roots (whatever they really were) has come up time and again over the centuries. No single era seems to have harnessed carnival and avoided its propensity to surprise, defy and live on.
Today, in contrast to its bawdy past, carnival is a treat for children who make their annual trek mid-term to Valletta, carnival’s natural home, to see the floats in their ‘grand défilé, with the King Carnival pride of place. It’s a time to not wear school uniform and to eat a gooey mound of prinjolata (a carnival-time cake of sponge, cream, citrus peel, glacé fruits and biscuits) and to enjoy the organised processions in Valletta. In fairness, carnival has always been a time for extravagance, throughout the centuries.