Victory Day (Malta)

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Victory Day
Fort St Angelo by night.jpg
Fireworks above Fort St. Angelo on Victory Day 2016, reminiscent of the bombings in World War II
Also called Il-Vitorja
Il-Bambina
Observed by Malta
Significance In remembrance of the victories in the Sieges of Malta of 1565, 1800 and 1943.
Date 8 September
Next time 8 September 2018 (2018-09-08)
Frequency annual

Victory Day (or Otto settembre) is a public holiday celebrated in Malta on 8 September[1] and recalls the end of three historical sieges made on the archipelago, namely: the Great Siege of Malta by the Turkish Empire ending in 1565; the Siege of Valletta by the French Blockade ending in 1800; and, the Siege of Malta during the Second World War by the Italian army ending in 1943.

This day also coincides with the commemoration of the birth of the Virgin Mary, better known as the Nativity, which feast is celebrated in the villages of Senglea, Naxxar and Mellieha in Malta, and Xagħra in Gozo. It is locally known as il-Vitorja (the Victory) and il-Bambina (Baby Mary). The traditional regatta featuring boat races in the Grand Harbour is held on Victory Day.[2]

Events related to 8 September[edit]

On 7 September 1565, the Sicilian fleet Gran Soccorso, reached the Maltese shores to provide assistance to the Maltese, therefore setting back the Turkish invasion.

On 8 September 1565, after more than three months of siege, the Ottomans, who were besieging the suburbs of Birgu and Isla, retired their forces and left that region of the island. Despite battles were ongoing in the region of what today is St. Paul's Bay, it can be said that this date marked the last day of the Great Siege, which is considered as one of the bloodiest in world history and the greatest siege in the history of Malta.[3]

The rebellion led by Emmanuele Vitale and Canon Francesco Saverio Caruana against the French troops occupying Malta in September 1800 is also a historical event related to the celebration taking place on this day, despite the anniversary does not fall exactly on 8 September.

Preparations for the feast celebrating the nativity of Saint Mary in Naxxar, Malta

On the same day in 1943, Italy withdrew from the Second World War and ended hostilities against the Allies and turned against its former German ally. This led to the cessation of the bombings on Malta by the Italian forces, marking an end to the siege of Malta and the end of the war for the Maltese people. The Italian Prime Minister, Marshal Pietro Badoglio, read the statement that "The Italian Government, recognizing the impossibility of continuing the unequal struggle against the overwhelming power of the enemy, and with the object of avoiding further and more grievous arm to the nation, has requested an armistice from General Eisenhower ... This request has been granted. The Italian forces will, therefore, cease all acts of hostility against the Anglo-American forces wherever they may be met ..." [4] U.S. Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower released the news of the unconditional surrender, "effective this instant", at the same time in a broadcast from Allied Headquarters in North Africa.[5]

Activities[edit]

Cultural activities celebrating Victory Day take place on 7 September, in Great Siege Square in Valletta, and involve literary readings, music and artistic performances. On Victory Day, the Armed Forces of Malta parade on Republic Street, Valletta, and reach the Co-Cathedral of St. John, where they salute the Prime Minister and the Maltese anthem is finally played. A mass for the highest ranking officers is held later on the day within the same temple. To mark the event, the President places a symbolic garland at the foot of the monument of the Great Siege to commemorate the victims of the World War.[3]

In the afternoon, a boat race organized by the Maltese Council for Sport (Maltese: Kunsill Malti għall-Isport), locally known as regatta, takes place in the Grand Harbour, engaging the affiliated societies Cospicua, Vittoriosa, Birzebbuga, Marsa, Marsamxett, Kalkara and Isla. A number of boat races subdivided in two categories take place.[3]

In Gozo, a commemorative ceremony is held in Independence Square in Rabat presided by the Minister for Gozo. The Armed Forces of Malta also involve themselves in a parade and finally place a wreath at the foot of the War Memorial dedicated to Christ the King of Jews.[3]

The day is also connected to the Nativity of Mary, and in fact feasts are celebrated in Xagħra, Naxxar, Senglea, and Mellieħa on the day.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Malta Events Calendar 2017". Maltalingua.com. Retrieved 9 September 2017. 
  2. ^ "Traditional Rowing (run by Kalkara Regatta Club)". University of Malta. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Il-Vitorja". Cogitationes Mei De. Retrieved 9 September 2017. 
  4. ^ "Official Texts of Surrender, Pittsburgh Press, September 8, 1943, p1
  5. ^ "ITALY QUITS WAR!", Pittsburgh Press, September 8, 1943, p1

See also[edit]