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DECEMBER 8, 2015

Christmas TIMES

THE BABY JESUS MUSEUM Good morning to Christmas breakfast Battle of the panto dames Unwanted gifts


DECEMBER 8, 2015

Christmas TIMES 04 Man, they feel like a woman

09 I won’t be home for Christmas

14 A Christmas nursery 21 We are Mary’s angels 25 When Santa gets it wrong

28 It’s a whiteout 33 A good morning to you 37 New year, same delicious story

40 42 45 48

The silvery screen Don’t erase but rewind A Christmas calendar The wrapped up joys of Christmas

Cover: An antique Baby Jesus statue from the Baby Jesus Museum collection. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier.

Editor’s Note

T

here is a room. It’s as lonely as an island in an empty sea of grass. It’s my room. Not that I own it. I just like to think that I was the one to find it first, playing hide and seek – mostly hide – behind the rubble walls and the whispering chorus of trees. And neither do I have the right to roam and ramble through the surrounding field, deeply ploughed like a worried, furrowed forehead. But I still do. Roam and ramble. Every day. It’s the little story that happens on my daily walk with the dog. The same story, every day, an imprint, like a dried flower between the leaves of some child’s book. In summer, I wheeze beneath the shadow theatre of leaves and birds and little things that stray in the path of the sun’s rays. I sit in silence. And I eavesdrop on the quiet insect life, a life so hushed that it needs subtitles: the flap of a wing, the dry bristle of a leaf, the squelch of an overripe fruit as it plops and pulps on the ground. There’s a big pant on the dog’s face. Then she sighs. And grumbles. It’s time to walk back home.

Executive Editor Stanley Borg Publisher Allied Newspapers Ltd. Printing Progress Press Ltd. Production Allied Newspapers Ltd. Contributors Jamie Iain Genovese, Veronica Stivala, Fiona Vella, Melanie Vella Design Manuel Schembri Photography Chris Sant Fournier Advertising Sales Executive Martina Bonello (tel: 2559 4707; e-mail: martina.bonello@timesofmalta.com)

In winter, I run to the room. The dog outruns me and waits for me in the shelter of a crumbling wall. We wait for the rain to stop. It never does. Sometimes the dog naps and dreams, chasing rabbits in dog heaven. Sometimes I nap and dream of summer. Then the clouds, flapping loudly like freshly washed white towels hanging to dry, wake us up and we run back home. I saw a man the other day. A man in a helicopter, whirring a wall of sound above my room. It was a footprints-in-the-sand, Robinson Crusoe moment. The dog barked. I looked up. And I imagined the man in the helicopter looking down and seeing me, like the man on the moon in the John Lewis Christmas advert. I would look tiny from up there. The dog’s bark would take a second to fly up to that height. And when it arrived, it would be sliced into phonemes by the whirring blades. He looked down. And he imagined me looking up and seeing him, a blur in a blast of wind. And he probably said something. His words never made it to the ground. I waved and wished him a happy Christmas. And I would like to imagine that he did the same. Then he went home. And I went home. Stanley Borg

This publication is being distributed with the Times of Malta.

All rights reserved. © 2015 Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission of the publishers is prohibited.

CHRISTMAS TIMES 03


Panto

Edward Mercieca as Nurse Bambolina.

Maxine Aquilina as Robin Hood and Sarah Mercieca as Maid Marian.

Man, they feel like a woman

kind of guy, with very nice legs. He is daring and courageous and falls in love with Marian. He also leads a motley crew of miscreants who call themselves the Merry Men. There is also King Richard and he tries to save the day, or so we think. But I have saved the best for last: the Sheriff. I need a man in my life, of course, and he is the hunk of hunks, the dude of dudes. He is English and his accent is delicious. Speaking of the English, let me tell you about my recent story with the Queen. I really tried to get an audience with her, and when they finally gave me an appointment, they told me “How do to be outside the palace I keep myself door at 10am. But when I turned up, they told me looking so that she was in Malta. beautiful?” I went to Buckingham Palace for nothing.

Cow pack beauty treatments, ample chests, dangerously handsome men and extravagant beauty regimes. Veronica Stivala learns some life lessons from this year’s four panto dames.

THE BUMBLINGS OF NURSE BAMBOLINA y name is Nurse Bambolina, much younger sister of Cicciolina. You will have heard of King Richard I. Well he has two young children – the babes – and when he goes off to the crusades he leaves them behind and I take care of them as their nurse. Now, my life outside the nursery is a little bit more complicated and while I have many husbands under my belt, I’m still looking for love. I guess I’m not the best judge of character and

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even though I have a heart of gold, I keep falling for the wrong guy. You see, I’m surrounded by so many interesting men. In Malta there is a string of hunks, and my favourites are Edward Mercieca, Alan Montanaro, Simon Busuttil and Joseph Muscat. I love pantomime actors and I know that Edward and Alan learn from the best: Simon and Joseph. And how can I forget Robin Hood? He is a swashbuckling, Errol Flynn

» EDWARD MERCIECA plays Nurse Bambolina in FM Theatre Productions’ Robin Hood and the Babes in the Woods at the Manoel Theatre from December 22 to January 4. www.teatrumanoel.com.mt.


Panto trimming, waxing and lots of hair products. My beautician has a full-time job just with me. But look at the result: I have the body of a 23-year-old and the skin tone of a beauty queen. My clothes are personally designed to hug my body and they are comfortable for sailing. You “Staying will not find any garments like mine anywhere else in fabulous on the world. such an adventure One of the reasons for is no easy my adventure is to save the squire’s daughter from her task” terrible fate. Speaking of the squire, I must talk about the men in Malta. I have had the chance to meet many men in Malta, of all shapes and sizes. Rich, poor, fat, small: I like them all. I tend to like politicians most. They have the most power and they can help me with my business for sure. I’m attracted to power you know. Jean Pierre Busuttil as In Siberia many politicians used to Mama Sufia Kerapestska. come to me for a helping hand. I told you I was very important, yes? Speaking of important people, the Queen, Lizzie to me, stayed at the Ample Chest when she was here in Malta last month. We are good friends. Back in Siberia we used to talk on Skype all the time. I helped her solve many of the problems she had in her country.

I’ll end with something I’m sure you’re dying to know. How do I keep myself looking so beautiful? Ooh ħanini, cow packs work wonders.

MAMA SUFIA AND HER AMPLE CHEST

» JEAN PIERRE BUSUTTIL plays Mama Sufia in MADC’s Treasure Island at the MFCC, Ta’ Qali, from December 19 to January 3. www.madc.com.mt.

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’m Mama Sufia Kerapestska. In my country, Siberia, Sufia is our family name. It means bold and beautiful. I don’t know exactly what it means in your country, but I’m sure it will have something to do with grace and beauty. Kerapestska is a very old surname going back to the real Siberian nobility. So you see, I’m a very important person. I had to come to Malta to escape from mad people who wanted to remove the government and get rid of all the important people. So I came here with my only possessions: my beauty and my son Jim Hawkins. Jim has to do many jobs in Malta so we get the money to survive and for all my beauty products. He is a cook, waiter and barman. He also works in my guesthouse, which is called the Ample Chest. I have many men com-

Alan Montanaro as Long John Swagger.

ing to stay at the Ample Chest. There is place for everyone. Now Jim is leaving soon to go find treasure and help this girl he met. This girl is taking away my Jim. Now, what mother will leave her only son to go wandering on a ship with some ugly pirates, alone? I will go with my Jim. I also need to make sure he returns safe and sound so that he can continue working at my guesthouse. Staying fabulous on such an adventure is no easy task and includes hours and hours of intense hair plucking, toe

MORE THAN CUCUMBERS

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osefa is one of those party animals. When she was young, she would go out to Paceville and stay out till the early hours! We get on quite well, but the fact that she thinks she is always right in whatever she does kills me. Jack (you know, of the beanstalk) is my adopted son. I adore him to bits. Rapunzel is the daughter of that ugly neighbour Josefa, and as for the witch, well I got to know her a long time ago, because I had trespassed in a field full of huge cucumbers. CHRISTMAS TIMES 05


Panto

Toni Busuttil a Josefa and Snits as Simona.

“Rapunzel is the daughter of that ugly neighbour Josefa”

Speaking of cucumbers, lots of people use them on their eyes to keep them looking beautiful. You’re probably wondering how I stay looking so youthful. Well, it’s more than cucumbers for my beauty regime. I keep myself looking this young and beautiful because I have a very strict physical regime: I ride my bicycle every single day for an hour. My husband follows me in his car just in case I get tired. I also make sure to put on my homemade natural facemask before I get my beauty sleep, which usually lasts around 12 hours. The secret to happiness is being transparent, honest and loving endlessly. Live life loving each other and you will live in peace. May God bless you all and may you have a very special Christmas and a wonderful New Year. 06 CHRISTMAS TIMES

JOSEFA’S DANGEROUSLY HANDSOME MEN Simona and I were at school together. We’re rather different though and Simona was always quite reserved. She was one of those nerdy types, always at home studying. I suppose you could say we get along quite well now. But, between you and me, I still think she hasn’t gotten over her jealousy of me since we were kids. I’ll tell you some interesting things about the fabulous people in my life. Firstly there’s my gorgeous daughter who has the most amazing hair. Her name is Rapunzel. Not many know this, but she has a twin brother who was kidnapped when they were very young. We haven’t seen him since. Actually the other people aren’t that fabulous.

We’re rather scared of the witch and the giant. If I were you, I would run away if I saw them. Speaking of dangerous men, I’d love to talk about that dangerously handsome man Daniel Craig. Oh he is so sexy. He’s the most handsome man in the world. I wouldn’t mind spending half an hour with him – there’s so much you can do even in such a short time. Oh and Pawlu Testa is also one of the most handsome men in Malta. He’s our producer and let’s just say I’d like to keep him in my good books! Because I’m such a wise woman I’m often asked what I think the secret to happiness is. The answer is love: love God and one another and you will be happy for the rest of your life. And I also take this opportunity to wish you all a special Christmas with so many love, and a better year.

» TONI BUSUTTIL plays Josefa and SNITS plays Simona in Teatru Rjal’s Rapunzel u s-Siġra tal-Fażola from December 20 to January 10. www.kumpanijateatrurjal.com.


People David and Francesca Judd on one of their visits to Malta.

I WON’T BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS While some of us are planning how to survive with all the family gatherings, Francesca Psaila-Savona and Julienne Schembri are planning how to survive without them, Melanie Vella says.

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rancesca Judd will be spending Christmas with her husband David in Botswana. The newlyweds met in Malta in 2009. Francesca spent a month showing David around Malta. Then after four long months of Skype romance, she flew to Botswana. “We decided that what we had was too special to end so I decided to move to Botswana at the end of that same year,” she says.

The two have lived in Botswana for the past six years. “We just got married in Malta last September, and since we both love and miss Malta so much, we plan to come back one day,” she says. The couple have spent their Christmases alternating between Botswana and Malta. “This year is particularly special as my brother Nicky and parents Gloria and Mario will be joining us for their first Christmas in Botswana,” CHRISTMAS TIMES 09


People

David and Francesca Judd in Botswana

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Francesca says. “It will be a joint PsailaSavona and Judd clan Christmas.” There are many more festivities in Malta than in Botswana, as many expats who live in Botswana tend to spend Christmas in South Africa or other places with their family. “The nice part is that whoever is still in Botswana during December opens the door for friends to drop by for a Christmas drink. This is where the festivities kick off,” she says. Christmas with the Judd in-laws is similar to the way the couple would celebrate Christmas “Mulled wine in Malta. and chestnuts “My mother inroasting on the fire just law loves Christmas do not taste the same on as much as I do. She a hot summer day in makes sure there Botswana as they do are copious amounts of food and drink to back home” go around.” Christmas trees are in full bloom, decked out with twinkling lights and presents. In true Christmas spirit, the Judds stick to a tradition of sharing gifts with the children at the local orphanage to share the Christmas cheer with them and brighten up everyone’s holidays. While most people in Francesca Judd fishing Europe are huddling under the mistletoe, wrapped up in scarves and jackets and feasting on turkey roast and hot chocolate, in Botswana people are enjoying a swim while the food sizzles on the braai. Christmas in Botswana is a hot affair. “I do actually miss the Christmas chill. Mulled wine and chestnuts roasting on the fire just do not taste the same on a hot summer day in Botswana as they do back home,” Francesca says. “I will miss my grandmother, who will be celebrating Christmas in Malta with all


People my cousins, aunts and uncles. We have a big family and Christmas Day is always a loud and happy affair,” she says. What is the best part about Christmas in Botswana? “Funnily enough, I love that it is summer time during Christmas. I get the best of both worlds as I’m able to spend Christmas in two different places. But then, Christmas is always beautiful no matter where you are. The way I see it is that if you are surrounded with people who love you, then nothing can go wrong.” On the other side of the thermometer is freezing London, where Julienne Schembri will be spending her Christmas. This will be her third Christmas away from home. Julienne has been living in London for the past seven years after being awarded a scholarship from the College of Jazz Dance to train at the Millennium Performing Arts College. “After graduating from the col“The lege, I decided to stay in London Christmas and try my luck finding work lights are on here,” she says. Julienne was determined to work in the performanother level, ing arts and dedicated herself so grand and to getting parts in musicals most Julienne Schembri artistic” people dream of. Last year Julienne toured around England and Ireland as part of the original cast of Wicked. “I am currently working in the West There are so many things to do to celebrate End production of Wicked,” she says. the season, from Christmas markets and an iceAs a performer, Christmas is the busiest time of skating rink to plenty of scrumptious street food the year. stalls, mulled wine, hot chocolate and many other “I will not get many free days during Christmas seasonal attractions. It’s the perfect way to get in the and New Year. Christmas Day is the only day I will festive mood.” not be performing. I will have a matinee show on Julienne’s inner artist calls her to escape the comChristmas Eve and double shows on Boxing Day,” mercial side of Christmas by visiting the choral she says. “But I’m not complaining because I love events at St Paul’s Cathedral. This tradition connects what I do.” her back to the roots of Christmas. This year Julienne and her boyfriend Aaron will The best thing about spending Christmas in London? spend Christmas Day at home. “The Christmas lights are on another level, so grand and artistic. I also love the possibility of having “We are going to cook up a storm, invite some a white Christmas with snow covered houses and friends over and stay cosy at home.” parks.” But as anyone who has ever walked the streets of The one Maltese tradition she loves is participating London during the month of December knows, Christin the Christmas charity swim in Sliema, which is mas shows off its sparkling lights and bombastic something she does with her whole family almost spirit on every street corner. Christmas stretches every year. out throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas. “But the worst part is being away from my family. “Visiting Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is one That never gets easy.” of my favourite things to do during the festive season. 12 CHRISTMAS TIMES


Museum

PAUL AND MARY PACE

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Museum

A Christmas nursery

Paul and Mary Pace have made it their passion to collect Baby Jesus statues. No two are the same and they all have a different story to tell, Fiona Vella says.

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ven as a young boy, Paul Pace was very fond of Baby Jesus statues, probably because they reminded him of a number of significant family moments. His grandmother gave him a small wax statue of Baby Jesus in order to ease his sorrow after his father George had to leave for a long time to work with the Navy. On another occasion, his father surprised him when he bought him an expensive statue of Baby Jesus that he had longed for, after he had won a lottery. Nowadays, at 69, Pace owns a collection of more than 2,000 Baby

Jesus statues which he has lovingly gathered in a museum that he called Il-Mużew tal-Bambini (Baby Jesus Museum). His wife Mary shares his passion and she is always present to give him a hand in this museum which they have purchased together. “It is such a pleasure to see people getting emotional when they visit our museum. Some become very nostalgic as they remember their childhood,” Paul says. “Others notice some statue which was similar to one that their parents had, and they start recalling their memories. A number of visitors get inspired to buy a Baby Jesus statue of their own, while some others decide to go home and search for their neglected antique statue which their grandma had left them.” Since its inauguration in 2010, Il-Mużew tal-Bambini has become quite renowned both with local and foreign visitors. Although it is available for viewing by appointment throughout the year, most of the visitors attend to this museum during the Christmas season. CHRISTMAS TIMES 15


Museum

“There is always something new to see because we are continually adding to our collection. Even though by now, we have a problem with space, when we find a particular Baby Jesus statue which we love, we just can’t help not to own it,” Mary admits. Certainly, the museum is a wonder to behold. The provenance of the statues is worldwide, thereby providing a rich overview of the different cultures. Skin colour, facial characteristics, and posture of these statues vary accordingly. A delicate looking Baby Jesus which was made in Malta rests in a musical box and moves his eyes and hands. A dark skinned Baby Jesus made from wood in Tanzania is one of the more exotic, while a curly black-haired toddler Jesus, wearing the traditional costume of Peru, sits on a chair and weeps after stepping on a thorn, according to a local legend. A wooden statue from Bethlehem shows Jesus as a boy dressed as a king and sitting on an elegant throne. A teenage Jesus from Atocia is also resting on a chair, but this time, he wears the clothes of a pilgrim and carries a rod. An intricately adorned statue of Jesus from Trapani is embellished with pomegranate for good luck. “Our interest in this aspect has led us to travel to countries which are related to the life of Jesus, and where we knew that we could find such stat16 CHRISTMAS TIMES

ues. Our visit to the Holy Land was an incredible experience which gave us the opportunity to walk in the same streets where Jesus lived. Moreover, it was an ideal country from where to acquire some beautiful statues for our collection,” Paul says. “When we visited Prague, we bought 42 different Baby Jesus statues,” Mary exclaims. They just had to, they explain, as they see my startled reaction. This was because according to an old tradition, the statue of Baby Jesus in Prague is dressed in different coloured clothes each day. Therefore, they were “When we bound to purchase a visited Prague, number of statues which we bought 42 showed Jesus in several different Baby dresses. Nevertheless, not Jesus statues” all the statues bought ended up in the museum, since some of these were presents for family members and friends. “Many of those who visit our museum are curious to know whether we can remember all our statues, which of course, we can. We can also recall all the places from where we have bought them. Each statue has an interesting story behind it and we love to share them with whoever’s interested to listen,” Paul says. I’m all ears and fascination when their narrative starts to pour out. One of these stories tells how they managed


Museum

CHRISTMAS TIMES 17


Museum

to buy a statue of Baby Jesus which belonged to St Ġorġ Preca. Another is related to an excellent bargain which Mary made unknowingly, when she bought a statue for her husband for a low price, and then found out that it dated to the 18th century. I also love the account relating to a particular container made of mica which was produced in Malta by a German prisoner of war during World War II, and was used to hold a statue of Baby Jesus. “We have many antique statues but the oldest one that we know the date of goes back to 1730. The smallest statue is about 15mm long, whereas the largest one has a length of 80cms. The materials of these statues varies widely and include stone, alabaster, marble, woods of different kinds, wax, ceramic, concrete, lava, straw, plastic, wool, and even bull’s 18 CHRISTMAS TIMES

horn,” Mary explains. Yet the strangest story was yet to come. “One day, we had a statue which lost its synthetic hair and we decided to try to replace it with some of our daughter’s hair. The experiment succeeded and soon, we provided the hair to a number of other statues by trimming some of our other daughter’s hair and eventually also from that of our nephews,” Paul smiles as he points them out proudly. Each time that I observe the statues, I notice a different one which I had not seen before. The collection looks literally endless, and yet each statue is unique. While some of the statues show simple features, mostly due to the artistic fashion of the time, others are quite elaborate and pretty. Yet there are also a number of outstanding char-

acters which stand out from the rest. “The main aim of this museum is to share the sweetness of Christmas and the joy which is inherent in each statue of Baby Jesus,” the two say. However, this place offers much more than that since it nurtures love for one’s family, while it cherishes an appreciation for diversity. Undoubtedly, this collection is also an invaluable source for those who are interested to study the changes which took place along the years in the production of such precious artworks. Il-Mużew tal-Bambini is located at 17, Santa Tereża Street, Birkirkara. It will be open for the public from Sunday, December 13 to Wednesday, January 6. Opening times are from Monday to Saturday from 4:30pm till 8:00pm, Sundays and public holidays from 9:00am till noon and from 4:30pm till 8:00pm.


Music

We are Mary’s angels Guitars, Christmas carols, children and charity: these are the elements that strike a chord with guitar teacher Mary Runza. Christmas comes with heartstrings attached, Melanie Vella says.

M

ary Runza, a guitar teacher for more than four decades, has spent the past 43 Christmases touring Malta and Gozo with her troop of angels. You would recognise the choir in the street. They are decked out with guitars, song sheets and bright, cheerful voices. “I have always loved Christmas. When I first started doing this, my wish was to draw children closer to the church to help them realise what Christmas is all about. For me it is not just about presents, but about Jesus,” Runza says. Runza’s love of music started from a very young age. “I was not allowed to learn to play the guitar until I had finished learning

to play the piano for the LRSM final exams. My father was in the army so he was very strict. I failed it for four marks. Then I picked up the guitar and started playing classical music. I began teaching and joined the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music and all my students used to sit for these exams, very successfully,” she says. For three years, Runza put her music aside and passed her students to other teachers, also her former students, Gayle Bonnici, Keith Muscat, Jessica Galea and Stephanie Lungaro Mifsud. “Then I decided three years was too long and started teaching again. Now I have been teaching at St Michael’s Foundation for the past 10 years,” she says.

Throughout the years Runza’s students have also learnt songs appropriate for the season, including songs for summer and Christmas carols. “No matter how out of tune their voice can be, I always want to include everyone. To me each person had something good to offer. The guitar is an instrument and with it we can all play together.” Runza has taught hundreds of students to play the guitar, prepared them for their classical exams and passed on her passion for the instrument. Many classes were held in a corner of her home. “I love being with the children. I see how music gives them confidence. Even though some of them can’t put a finger to a string, it makes them happy and that’s the most important thing,” she says. The choir of angels move around from street corners, shopping complexes, CHRISTMAS TIMES 21


Music churches and even hotel foyers, strumming along to carols such as Little Drummer Boy. Runza and her angels have also sung for Pope Saint John Paul II. They also sung happy birthday in three different languages when Pope Benedict XVI visited Malta. This was one of the highlights of Runza’s musical career. Not only do the young voices ring in the Christmas spirit with carols both in English and Maltese to anyone who stops to listen, but they also have a bright red box for donations. All the funds raised are donated to the Down Syndrome Association Malta. “In the very beginning I had met a mother, Nicky D’Ancona, and she asked me to collect funds for them. From then on we have loyally given the funds we collect to this foundation.” Eventually, Runza became honorary president of the Down Syndrome Association Malta for her generous donations and unwavering support. As one of Runza’s former angels, I can personally vouch that these Christ-

mas carolling trips instilled in me a certain love for Christmas. Talking to Runza conjures up memories of singing and strumming my heart out and building my confidence. More than anything, forming part of this group taught me that Christmas is a time for giving back, raising people’s spirits and creating a sense of community both within the group of carollers as well as with anyone who stops to listen and join in the fun. And all this can be done through music. How does she manage to keep the morale up every year? “The smile on the children’s faces,” she says. “As they strum the strings,

even if they are out of tune, I can see they are happy. And when people put money in the box, they shout to say thank you and continue with more motivation and merriment. “The only downside is that I leave my husband alone for the last week of Christmas since we have a very busy programme with carol sessions in the afternoon and evening.” Look out for Runza and her little angels carolling around Sliema in Bisazza Street and also strumming up Christmas cheer for the patients at Mater Dei Hospital.


Gifts

When Santa gets it wrong THIS YEAR, TRY AND MAKE UNWANTED PRESENTS THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST.

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f you don’t want a cold Christmas jumper damp€2bn were spent on unwanted gifts. Also in 2014, a ening your seasonal cheer, then turn the page study by Gumtree.com showed that the average UK and read something else. However, if feel that adult received €61.26 worth of unwanted gifts. That is your Christmas spirit is potent enough to suffer translated into an increase of 80kg in an average any attempts at diluting it, then read on. person’s carbon footprint. But this being Christmas, let’s not go for a Lastminute.com also organised a similar poll. straight red card. So, here is the second Last year, the total of unwanted festive gifts yellow card: read on at your peril because came up to 104 million. That means that “Also, what follows might come across as slighton average, someone in the UK received excuse the ly Scrooge-ish. eight Christmas gifts and hated two of stereotypes but when them. For men, the most dreaded gifts Fine then. Here goes. was the last time a woman were Christmas jumpers, cartoon socks So, according to a 2014 survey comwas thrilled at receiving and gaudy novelty ties. Women, on missioned by eBay, 60 per cent of a heavy-duty driller, or the other hand, said they hated receivAmericans receive an unwanted gift. a man yet another ing plastic surgery vouchers, diet books Another survey, this time conducted novelty tie?” and tacky ornaments. And what would by Japan-based online retailer Rakuten, shows that in the run up to the 2014 festive they prefer? Most of those who participated season, almost three-quarters of Americans in the poll said that they would like to receive thought they would not like the Christmas gift either cash or a beach holiday. they would receive. And that means wasted money as The disappointment of receiving a gift we don’t like is, well as wasted time for the buyers, who spend an in most cases, kept hidden. According to the same Lastaverage of 14 hours shopping for gifts. minute.com survey, four in 10 people will fake joy at The cost of unwanted gifts is staggering. In the UK, unwanted Christmas gifts. Moreover, a survey of 2,000 polling group YouGov estimated that last year, around adults conducted by the UK Post Office shows that, CHRISTMAS TIMES 25


Gifts two out of three adults are too polite to exchange the gift. Rather, the majority either give the gift away to a charity shop or sell it online. Elsewhere in the world, a quick look Down Under shows that according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australians spent an estimated €543 on unwanted gifts last year. Around 13.7 per cent of Australians threw away the unwanted gifts. So, what’s the solution? Unfortunately, there is no solution because the exchange of gifts is largely based on a lack of understanding. When planning on giving a gift to someone, we don’t ask the intended receiver where their preference lies. We could, but the information – truthful or not – would take away the surprise element of a gift. Which means that you will save up on the sparkly wrapping – why disguise what is already known? But in the process, you dampen the magic. Still, knowledge is key. It’s just that you have to gain it without raising any suspicions. First of all, be on the alert – the receiver is apt to throw some hints around, consciously or not, and you need to be ready to pick them up. Also, ask common friends what gifts they plan on buying the intended – that way, you avoid giving duplicate gifts. Moreover, make a list of what gifts you gave the intended in the past few years – giving someone a blazer three Christmases in a row shows that you don’t invest much thought in gifts. A bit of common sense will not go amiss. Wrapping up a gaudy Christmas jumper as a joke is one thing, but expecting the receiver to take it seriously is another. Also, excuse the stereotypes but when was the last time a woman was

thrilled at receiving a heavy-duty driller, or a man yet another novelty tie? Still, this doesn’t meant that you will not end up giving and receiving unwanted gifts. Which is no big deal really because gifts are not about their monetary value – rather, read them as signs of respect and love. If you do that, then no gift will be unwanted.

Unwanted dead or alive

What do you do with unwanted gifts?

• Return the item. True, this is a bit of a social killer, but if you explain to the giver that you really have a similar item back home, then it’s a win-win situation. • Give your unwanted gift to charity. Again, this is a win-win situation – you get to dispose of an unwanted gift while doing a good deed. • Sell it online. After all, in the history of the world, no one has ever refused money. • Hold a gift-swapping party. It’s a fun way of getting rid of an unwanted gift and in the process, receiving one you always wanted. • Keep it. Then give it to someone else as a gift next Christmas.


Travel

It’s a WHITEOUT Snow is falling. Actually, it’s not. And while we do like our 300 days of sunshine, come Christmas, we miss the white postcard perfection. So pack your bags and travel to a destination where you can flake up and smell the snow.

BORMIO COMBINES SKI, SPA AND SNOW.

28 CHRISTMAS TIMES


Travel

BORMIO, ITALY The perfect combination is to watch the snow falling outside while inside, a fire is crackling and a cuppa is brewing right up. A scenic threehour drive from Milan, Bormio, in the Valtellina region, is close to the Swiss border. The old town, with its cobbled streets and medieval buildings, is lovingly maintained. If you want to engage in a spot of skiing, Bormio offers the combination of small and quiet pistes. The runs are not for beginners, especially the peak to creek 1,800-metre burst that includes the vertiginous Pista Stelvio. If you want something a bit busier, get in the car and drive an hour to St Moritz. Bornio has also been a spa town since the days of the Roman Empire. Indulge in a treatment at the bagni vecchi (old baths) or bagni nuovi (new baths).

SLOVENIA Just a quick flight away, Slovenia is the snowy landscape that you’ve been dreaming of. So put on a pair of thick socks and your walking shoes and tour Lake Bled and the peaks of Mount Triglav. If you’re more inclined towards an urban adventure, keep your socks on and walk around Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital and largest city. The population is young, the cafes busy and the bars throbbing. Then retire to Tivoli, Ljubljana’s central park, for an easy stroll along the treelined groves and gravel footpaths.

LJUBLJANA COVERED IN SNOW.

CHRISTMAS TIMES 29


Travel

THE NORTHERN LIGHTS SEEN FROM KIRUNA.

SNOW IS FALLING OVER TALLINN.

KIRUNA, SWEDEN The best thing about planning a holiday in Kiruna, Sweden, is that the snow festival kicks off in January. That means that you can spend Christmas with your loved ones in Malta and then pack your bags for Kiruna, the northernmost town in Sweden. Situated in the province of Lapland, Kiruna is famous for its snow festival. The focus here is snowmobile rampjumping. However, there are other hearty activities on offer such as lassoing and sledging. Then order a hot drink at the Hotel Arctic Eden.

TALLINN, ESTONIA The capital of Estonia is charming at any time of the year. But in winter, especially, it’s picture perfect. During Christmas, Tallinn is on its best behaviour. The cellar bars are candlelit, the Art Deco patisseries are doing their 30 CHRISTMAS TIMES

MAGIC, MYSTERY AND MIST AT THE LAKE DISTRICT.

VIENNA: BISCUIT TIN FANTASY.

best to add four inches to your waistline, and the Christmas market is jingle-belling all the way. When the wind blows in from the Baltic, temperatures can drop to minus 25. But never you worry because first of all, almost all the hotels have a sauna. And secondly, a menu of wild boar, blinis and blood pudding is as cosy as can be.

The rewards for such cold-toed bravery, however, are outstanding. Cue a context of snowy peaks, chill-blasted lakes, and a roaring fire at the Old Dungeon Ghyll, a traditional hotel that lies on the approach to Scafell Pike. For a more luxurious experience, stay at Linthwaite House, which overlooks Lake Windermere. Afternoon tea is legendary here.

THE LAKE DISTRICT, UK

VIENNA, AUSTRIA

William Wordsworth, who penned some of his best poems in a remote Lake District cottage, once wrote how, “I wandered lonely as a cloud, that floats on high o’er vales and hills.” Christmas is your chance to wander lonely in this beautiful landscape. From spring to autumn, when tourism in the area is at its peak, the Lake District rarely offers you the chance to be on your own. But at this time of year, only a few hikers brave the cold weather.

Probably no other city in the world looks more beautiful during Christmas than Vienna. Yes, the weather is cold and that snowflake which just made it past your woolly layers has sent a shiver down, up, and down your spine. But it’s so cosy. The cafes are simmering – the black coffee fortified with rum helps – and the markets are a huddle of warmth. And then someone opens a window to let out a classical aria. And it’s magic.


Food

A good morning to you Don’t skip breakfast on Christmas Day. EGGS BENEDICT WITH SMOKED SALMON You need: 4 eggs • 2tbsp white wine vinegar • 2 English muffins, halved • Butter for spreading • 8 slices smoked salmon • Chives, chopped. For the hollandaise sauce: 2tsp lemon juice • 3 egg yolks • 125g unsalted butter • 2tsp white wine vinegar. Method: Start by making the hollandaise sauce. Put the vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl, add the yolks and whisk until light and frothy. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and continue whisking until the mixture thickens. Add the butter, whisking constantly. Make sure that the mixture doesn’t split. Take off the heat and season. To poach the eggs, bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the vinegar. Lower the heat, stir the water to create a small whirlpool, and slide in the eggs one by one. Cook for four minutes then remove. Toast the muffins, butter them, and put a couple of salmon slices on each half. Top with a poached egg and a dollop of hollandaise sauce and garnish with chopped chives. CHRISTMAS TIMES 33


Food

MINI PANETTONE You need: 2 eggs • 1 egg yolk • 1tsp vanilla extract • 500g plain flour • 14g dried yeast • 100g caster sugar • 200ml warm milk • 200g butter, softened • 140g mixed dried fruits • 100g mixed candied peel • Milk, for brushing • 2tbsp flaked almonds. Method: Beat the eggs and yolk with the vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar, yeast and a pinch of salt. Add the warm milk and egg mixture and beat to a soft, sticky dough. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. Line a muffin tray with baking parchment. Blend the butter, fruit, and peel into the dough. Cut into equal pieces and place on the tray. Cover and leave to rise. 34 CHRISTMAS TIMES

Heat the oven to 190°C. Brush each panettone with milk, scatter the almonds over them and bake for 30 minutes.

CRUMPETS AND HONEY You need: 250ml milk • 200g plain flour • 1tsp dried yeast • 1tsp golden caster sugar • 2tbsp vegetable oil • 5tbsp honey • 140g unsalted butter. Method: Heat the milk in a pan until it starts to bubble around the edges. Take off the heat and leave to cool. In the meantime, put the flour, yeast, sugar and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and mix in the cooled milk to make a loose batter. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place. To make the honey butter, heat the honey until it turns to a deep gold. Take off the heat. Beat the butter until

it is fluffy, add a pinch of salt and fold in the warm honey. Chill. When the batter has risen, fry over a high heat. If you want the crumpets to be equal in size, use metal cooks’ rings. Serve with the burnt honey butter.

PARSNIP HASH BROWNS You need: 450g potatoes • 350g parsnips • 1 small onion, thinly sliced • 1 garlic clove, chopped • 1 egg, beaten • 5tbsp sunflower oil. Method: Peel and grate the potatoes and parsnips. Using your hands, squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Stir in the onion, garlic, egg and season. Divide the mixture and shape into flat cakes. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the cakes on a low heat until golden and tender.


Food

New year, same

delicious story Start the new year with some old favourites. CAULIFLOWER AND CHESTNUT SOUP You need: ½tbsp olive oil • 1 large onion, chopped • 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets • 250ml milk • 850ml vegetable stock • 150ml double cream • 200g chestnuts, chopped • 25g grated Parmesan.

Method: Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Fry the onion until soft. Then add the cauliflower, milk and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower is tender. Add the cream, season and bring back to the boil. Take off the heat. Add the chestnuts and blend until smooth. Add the parmesan and black pepper and serve.

SLOW ROAST PORK BELLY You need: 1.5kg pork belly • 25g butter • 25g flour • 1ltr chicken stock. Method: Roast the pork bones until browned, transfer to a pan and cover with the stock. Simmer for one hour, skimming off any scum from the surface. Heat the oven to 180°C. Put the pork belly in a roasting tray, skin side up, CHRISTMAS TIMES 37


Food

For the chocolate layer: 300g dark chocolate • 300ml double cream • 2tbsp caramel • 3tbsp dark rum • 1tbsp golden caster sugar. Method: Roll out the pastry on a floured surface. Heat the oven to 200°C. Line the pastry with baking parchment and blind-bake for 15 minutes. In the meantime, fry the bananas, butter and sugar until caramelised. In a saucepan, heat the caramel until it has thickened. Melt 25g of the chocolate, brush over the base of the tart case and set aside until the chocolate hardens. When the bananas are cool, arrange them over the chocolate. Top with the caramel and chill.

and season. Cook for 1.5 hours. Increase the heat to 220°C and roast for another 20 minutes until the skin is crisp. Allow to rest for 45 minutes. To make the gravy, remove all the fat from the bottom of the roasting tin. Add the butter and when it melts, add the flour. Gradually stir in the stock and cook until the gravy has thickened.

CARROT SALAD You need: 1.5kg carrots, peeled • 1 garlic clove, peeled • 2tsp cumin seeds, toasted • 1tsp honey • Juice of 1 lemon • Handful raisins • Handful pine nuts, toasted • 2tbsp olive oil • 1 bunch coriander, chopped. Method: Boil the carrots in lightly salted water for 10 minutes. Using a pestle and mortar, mash the garlic and cumin seeds with a pinch of salt. Stir in the lemon juice and honey. Drain the carrots, leave to cool, and then grate or slice. Toss the dressing, scatter over the raisins and pine nuts, and drizzle with olive oil. 38 CHRISTMAS TIMES

BANOFFEE PIE: THE GROWN-UP VERSION You need: 500g ready-made sweet shortcrust pastry • Flour, for dusting. For the banana layer: 4 large bananas, halved and cut diagonally • 1tbsp butter • 1tbsp golden caster sugar • 1 can caramel.

For the topping, put the remaining chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the cream, 2tbsp caramel, rum and sugar and whisk until melted. Pour over the bananas and chill for four hours. To serve, remove the tart from the tin. Whip 200ml double cream with some icing sugar and pipe it on top of the tart.


Films

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA

SNOOPY AND CHARLIE BROWN: THE PEANUTS MOVIE

THE SILVERY SCREEN

The dark theatre, the hushed crowd, the rush for fresh popcorn during the intermission and then the rolling credits: going to the cinema is a family Christmas tradition worth watching. This year, continue the tradition with these new favourites. In the Heart of the Sea Directed by Ron Howard, In the Heart of the Sea tells of the epic battle between the New England whaling ship Essex and a giant whale hungry for vengeance. This real-life story inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker and Cillian Murphy, the film has more chapters than Melville’s masterpiece as it follows the crewmen in the aftermath of the whale’s attack, when they are beset by starvation, despair and storms.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie In 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas made us fall in love with Charles Schulz’s gang. Now, 50 years later, we’re about to fall in love again with Charlie Brown, 40 CHRISTMAS TIMES

Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the Peanuts crew as they star in Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie. On the big screen, Snoopy embarks on a great mission in pursuit of his arch-nemesis. Of course, he can only achieve the ultimate victory with the help of his little friends.

Krampus In Alpine folklore, the Krampus is a horned beast who punishes misbehaving children. Now the beast stars in Michael Dougherty’s horror flick, in which he hounds one particularly unlucky family. Starring Adam Scott, Toni Collette and Allison Tolman, Krampus will have you on your best behaviour – otherwise, a horned silhouette will rise behind the living room window.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This seventh instalment in the deep space saga has all the trademark Star Wars ingredients: epic battles, exceptional effects and a soaring musical score. Directed, co-produced and cowritten by JJ Abrams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, when Han Solo and his allies defeated the Galactic Empire. However, they now face a new threat from evil Kylo Ren and his Stormtroopers army.

Christmas with the Coopers Generations of the same family coming together for Christmas isn’t the most original plot. In Christmas with the Coopers, we have the same plot: four generations of the Cooper family come together for their annual Christmas celebration. After a series of misadventures, they rediscover family love and values. While it’s all a bit been-there-seenthat, it’s still a joy to watch John Goodman and Diane Keaton.


Films

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

KRAMPUS

CHRISTMAS WITH THE COOPERS

CHRISTMAS TIMES 41


Films

DON’T ERASE BUT REWIND

Some of our favourite Christmas films are in black and white. But that doesn’t mean they don’t add colour to the season.

NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Love Actually, 2003

A Christmas Carol, 1938

In public, you probably dismiss this film as a schmaltzy turn which isn’t worth watching even once. And that Bill Nighy? You just cannot stand him. But in secret, you have watched Love Actually close to 10 times. And every time, your eyes water. And no, there’s no eyelash in your eye.

There have been various adaptations of our favourite Charles Dickens story. However, this 1938 version starring Reginald Owen and Gene Lockhart is one of the finest. And it’s so heart-warming to watch Christmas in black and white.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 1989 Starring Chevy Chase, Juliette Lewis and Beverly D’Angelo, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation tells of the Griswolds, who are preparing for a family seasonal celebration. But of course, things don’t run as smoothly as planned. The original family-Christmas-disaster film.

The Polar Express, 2004 More than a decade after it was first released, we still watch The Polar Express with childhood amazement at the magic that Robert Zemeckis managed to create. Tom Hanks is in top Christmas form. 42 CHRISTMAS TIMES

The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993 Tim Burton travels to the dark side of Christmas but returns with the beautiful story of Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king who plans to kidnap Father Christmas and taking over the role. Terrific fun and a happy ending.

Home Alone, 1990 What could be better for young Kevin McCallister than being left back home when the rest of the family go on holiday? Well, a lot of things could go wrong, especially when two criminals, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, decide that nothing could be easier than robbing a house guarded by an eight-year-old boy. They are, of course, wrong.


Films

HOME ALONE

THE POLAR EXPRESS

LOVE ACTUALLY

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

CHRISTMAS TIMES 43


Events

A CHRISTMAS

CALENDAR

Every day is a red letter one this season.

ThE PErfEcT chrisTmas fair When: December 5, 6, 2015 Where: San Anton Gardens, Attard This year, the Corinthia Palace Hotel and Spa’s highly anticipated Perfect Christmas Fair is being held at San Anton Presidential Palace in collaboration with the Malta Community Chest Fund. After the fair, and thanks to the funds raised for Beyond the Moon foundation, the Malta Community Chest Fund will select one seriously ill child to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip with their family to destinations like Disneyland Paris or a Center Parcs resort in Europe.

cribs ExhibiTion When: December 6 – 27, 2015 Where: St Joseph the Worker parish centre, Birkirkara For the 13th consecutive year, the St Joseph the Worker Exhibitions Society of Birkirkara is organising its annual crib exhibition. This exhibition features numerous cribs of every size and shape, as well as Baby Jesus statuettes, paintings and other items related to Christmas. Most of the items are handmade exhibits produced by the exhibitors themselves. Some of the exhibits will be shown publicly for the first time. During the days of the exhibition, poinsettias, plants and Christmas sweets will also be on sale.

bEThlEhEm f’GĦajnsiElEm When: December 6, 2015 – January 3, 2016 Where: Għajnsielem Bethlehem f’Għajnsielem is an animated nativity village spread on 20,000sqm of land. It offers a naturalistic reproduction of the environs of Bethlehem and the timeless story of the nativity every December at Ta’ Passi fields in Għajnsielem. This animated crib promises to bring the timeless Christmas story to life as never before. The atmosphere is simply unique: horses turn mills, villagers go about their jobs, shepherds inhabit caves, animals roam in enclosed spaces and a poor unknown couple tend their newborn in a grotto.

CHRISTMAS TIMES 45


Events Bethlehem f’Għajnsielem will also include re-enactments of the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem of Joseph and Mary as well as the Adoration of the Magi on the Epiphany when the three Wise Men will depart on horseback from Malta to Ċirkewwa terminal where they will board a ferry in midafternoon before making their entry at the nativity village. The event is sponsored by the Għajnsielem Local Council with the assistance and support of the Ministry for Gozo, the village and various NGOs.

mas music at St Mark’s Church, which was built in 1558 by Girolamo Cassar. Following the concert, guests will be invited to continue the evening in the cloister surrounding the central courtyard of the priory, which was built by Andrea Belli in 1740. Welcome drinks and canapes will be served on arrival and a three-course Christmas meal, inclusive of coffee, wine and water, prepared by Osborne Caterers will then be served in the cloister. The evening will be given a Swedish twist in celebration of Santa Lucija.

cated to St Paul, St Augustine and St Catherine. This work of art has been described as one of the most important art treasures in Malta due to its rarity and fine quality.

GAUDETE When: December 19, 2015 Where: Church of the Transfiguration, Lija and Monastery of St Catherine, Valletta Malta’s only male chamber choir is back with its annual Christmas musical appointments. These free concerts will

BOLSHOI BALLET IN CINEMA – THE NUTCRACKER. PHOTO BY DAMIR YUSUPOV.

GOZITANO CHRISTMAS VILLAGE When: December 11, 2015 – December 13, 2016 Where: Xewkija Last year during the festive season Gozitano Agricultural Village hosted a series of events and activities. The site was transformed by music, illuminations and food stalls offering traditional mouthwatering Christmas food, an impressive selection of wines from different countries and other Gozitano attractions including the production of traditional Christmas sweets. This year, the Gozitano Christmas Village will once again treat visitors to a festive experience.

CHRISTMAS AT THE PRIORY When: December 11, 2015 Where: St Mark’s Church, Rabat The priory of St Mark in Rabat will be the setting of the Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar Christmas concert and dinner. The scintillating Voca choir will open the evening with a repertoire of Christ46 CHRISTMAS TIMES

MET OPERA IN CINEMA – THE MAGIC FLUTE

FAA is undertaking the restoration of a unique late medieval four-panel tempera on board altarpiece in order to ensure that this priceless work of art will be enjoyed by future generations. This unique set dates to the late medieval period and depicts the Madonna of Graces with flanking panels dedi-

retell the nativity story through music and carols from medieval right up to more recent times. The venues chosen for this year are the Church of the Transfiguration in Lija, and the Monastery of St Catherine in Valletta. This year’s concerts are being supported by the Farsons Foundation.


Events TREASURE ISLAND When: December 19, 2015 – January 3, 2016 Where: MFCC ‘X’ marks the spot on this year’s map for family entertainment. The destination is MADC’s Christmas pantomime, Treasure Island. Join in the fun with Alan Montanaro as the mischievous rogue Long John Swagger, Alexander G. Lewis as the handsome young hero Jim Hawkins and Jean Pierre Busuttil as the outrageous Mama Sufia Kerapestska, the hero’s mother. They set out on an epic hunt from untold riches to be found on the mysterious treasure island. This fascinating journey will take you on an exciting adventure, full of laughs for the young and not so young, together with a spate of satirical jokes for the mature and much audience participation. And there’s the inevitable boy meets girl story as the fabled treasure also contains a magic voodoo amulet. If Jim manages to find it in time, he may just be able to save the squire’s daughter, Miss Huta from her terrible curse before it’s too late. However it doesn’t help that Long John Swagger and his rather unscrupulous pirate friends have also come along for the ride. Writer and director Malcolm Galea has press ganged a cast that includes Katherine Brown, Joseph Zammit, Steffi Thake, Michael Mangion, Joe Depasquale, Tina Rizzo and Rambert Attard and a high energy chorus including a mermaid or two and a parrot that embarrasses the audience Add in the lively music and song from Maestro Paul Abela and Roger Tirazona and Alison White’s exciting choreography. Claudio Apap’s amazing scenery with large projection screens will transform MFCC into a world of magic and make believe, embellished by the outrageous costumes designed by Isabel Warrington.

A PRELUDE TO CHRISTMAS When: December 20, 2015 Where: Mdina Cathedral The Amadeus Chamber Choir is once again holding its annual appointment for the festive season. This year, the

concert will mark a significant milestone for the choir as it presents the 25th edition of A Prelude to Christmas. Enjoy a magical evening with melodies which will surely give the audience a true feeling of Christmas. All proceeds will be donated to the Cancer Research Programme.

BOLSHOI BALLET IN CINEMA: THE NUTCRACKER When: December 20, 2015 Where: St James Cavalier Based on the story of The Nutcracker and the King of Mice by Ernst Theodor Hoffmann, revised by Alexander Dumas, and originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, and now reinterpreted and restaged by Yuri Grigorovich, the story of The Nutcracker retains the essence of what we have all come to love. A party, a fight, a land of snow, and a land of sweets – it is the exciting adventure of a young German girl and her encounter with the Nutcracker Prince, in one unforgettable Christmas dream.

ROBIN HOOD AND THE BABES IN THE WOOD When: December 22, 2015 – January 4, 2016 Where: Manoel Theatre A magical tale told like never before. Join Robin Hood and his Merry Men on their adventure to defeat the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, fight the evil witch, battle the ghouls of the enchanted forest, and save the babes from certain death, while having enough time to fall in love with Maid Marian and tagging along Nursey, the Dame, played by Edward Mercieca. A traditional Christmas panto packed with adventure and comedy that will leave you breathless.

MET OPERA IN CINEMA: THE MAGIC FLUTE When: December 27, 2015 Where: St James Cavalier There’s nothing quite like a good throwback, especially when it is to the groundbreaking broadcast that launched the MET’s Live in HD series, seen by opera lovers in movie theatres all around the globe. Adults and children alike will be enchanted by the whimsical humour and puppetry of Julie Taymor’s hit

production of Mozart’s timeless fairy tale on myth, music and joy: The Magic Flute.

VALLETTA NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATION When: December 31, 2015 Where: Valletta Following the success of the last few years, Malta now boasts of New Year’s Eve national celebration just like every country. This year the festive atmosphere will be organised throughout most of Valletta, at various strategic spots around the capital. Celebrations are being organised by the Valletta Local Council in collaboration with G7 Events and supported by the V18 Foundation, Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Justice, Culture and Local Government.

THE GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER When: January 6 – 17, 2016 Where: Mediterranean Conference Centre It’s the most popular and magical Christmas ballet for all the family. The artists from The Crown of Russian Ballet of Moscow with soloists from Bolshoi Theatre and talented young dancers bring the Nutcracker to life with exquisite dancing, beautiful sets and Tchaikovsky’s glorious music. On a sparkling Christmas Eve in a frost-dusted Edwardian London, Clara and her enchanted Nutcracker doll discover a magical world, where she battles with the Mouse King and meets a handsome stranger. As the air grows colder, Clara and her valiant Nutcracker take a hot air balloon ride across London to the glistening Land of Snow where her adventure really begins. The Great Russian Nutcracker Ballet is a part of the Festival Russian Christmas. The festival is organised by Russian-Maltese Cultural Association in collaboration with other Russian diaspora organisations and dedicated to the celebration of the Russian Orthodox Christmas. The festival will include a series of cultural and art events, including a Russian traditional folk art exhibition and fashion show, a traditional Christmas tree party for children, and other seasonal activities. CHRISTMAS TIMES 47


Gifts

THE WRAPPED UP JOYS OF CHRISTMAS ADD SPARKLE TO YOUR CELEBRATIONS With so much choice, it is sometimes hard to find the right venue for your Christmas event. To help guide you, Paradise Bay Resort Hotel has put together a dedicated Christmas brochure showcasing a variety of menus and packages. This festive season, add sparkle to your celebrations with the Paradise Bay Resort Hotel’s buzzing ambience, tasty food, intoxicating tipples and enough cheer to last well into 2016. From lunches and dinners to banquets and sensational private parties, Paradise Bay Resort Hotel invites you to indulge in a feast of festivity. Rest assured that the staff will take care of every last detail to make it a stress-free, fun-filled and entirely unforgettable experience. And why not turn a party or dinner into a special winter break by staying at the Paradise Bay Resort Hotel too? Celebrate with friends, family and work colleagues and Paradise Bay Resort Hotel will make your Christmas and New Year your best yet. For more information call on 2152 1166, e-mail events@paradise-bay.com or visit www.paradise-bay.com.

FOUR THE MAN Quatre Pour Homme is an elegant woody fragrance for men with style. Its composition begins with fresh lime and lemon as well as violet leaves. The heart mixes notes of Sambac jasmine and rose, while the base captures predominantly woody tones of cedar and cashmere together with a trace of musk. Boucheron fragrances are exclusively distributed by Chemimart. For more information call on 2149 2212.

A REFRESHING CHANGE The famously unique Magners taste is what ultimately separates it from all its competitors. Because Magners uses freshly pressed apple juice, you can really taste the quality of Magners Irish Cider. Not too dry, not too sweet, Magners is perfectly balanced, with a long and truly refreshing finish. For enquiries call Albert FS Manduca on 2123 3909 or visit www.albertfsmanduca.com.mt and the Magners Malta Facebook page.

FROM MILAN WITH GOODNESS Tre Marie is a paladin of the goodness of Milan. This goodness is associated with the values of the culture of the city, with a selection of top quality ingredients and with a meticulously slow artisanal process embodying precious knowhow handed down from the past. Tre Marie panettone are only sold in selected outlets. Look out for the in-store promotions at your favourite supermarket.

THE PURE POWER OF WATER Simple Micellar Cleanser Water is the most advanced yet gentle cleanser to date. Made with triple purified water and skin-loving ingredients, it gently removes make-up, dirt and impurities, while unclogging pores and instantly hydrating the skin by 90 per cent. Applied with a cotton pad, the Simple Micellar Cleansing Water leaves the skin feeling fresh and revitalised, with no residue and no rinsing required. The gentle cleanser is dermatologically tested, contains no artificial perfume or dyes and no harsh chemicals that can damage your skin. It is made with skin-loving ingredients, including Vitamin B3 and C, and triple purified water to help remove contaminants known to irritate the skin. The Simple Cleansing Micellar Water is quickly becoming a favourite with make-up artists and beauty editors and is being dubbed the new beauty musthave. Simple harnesses the power of the purest water, which provides instant hydration to help the skin get through the day. It reduces the potential for irritation from particles or contaminants that can irritate the skin, and helps deposit the skin-loving ingredients onto your skin. Simple products provide clean, fresh and instantly hydrated skin, free from irritation.

ART FOR CHRISTMAS The Tweed Easel is designed to fold down to a box shape with adjustable shoulder straps, making it ideal for backpacking when travelling to outdoor painting locations. The easel has telescopic legs to adjust it to the perfect working height and also comes with a practical metal lined storage tray and folding wooden palette. Extends to a height of 184cm and weighs only 5.1kg. Available at â‚Ź179. A full range of easels is available on display at Vee Gee Bee Art in San Gwann and Valletta. For more information visit www.vgb.com.mt.

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Gifts NATURE’S BEAUTY FORMULA L’Erbolario’s herbalist laboratories present a full range of beauty treatments derived from nature’s infinite properties. The eco-conscious company combines the precious wisdom of the past and the use of natural substances with the undeniable discoveries of modern cosmetic science. Ingredients are gathered from the four corners of the Earth: plant juices, flower waters and essences come together through the patience and knowledge of professional craftsmen to create a wide variety of cosmetic products. The laboratories, located in Lodi, near Milan, operate under the philosophy that an alliance with Earth’s virtue is crucial to business. Therefore, no animals are harmed or tested on throughout the process, the company is eco-friendly in its practices, and also makes use of energy-saving equipment. These phytocosmetics are a result of a passion for herbalist medicine and nature’s essence. The company offers products for women, men and children, including fragrances, makeup, and skincare, all of which are carefully dressed in beautiful gift boxes, trunks, envelopes and satin sachets. This wide range varies in content and cost, fitting all expenditure forecasts and making for unique, presentable gifts for any loved one this Christmas.

SAY CHEESE Dragon cheese is produced in the foothills of Snowdonia in North Wales and is made using only the very best Welsh milk from cows which graze on delicious lush Welsh pastures. The cheese is produced with bespoke traditional recipes and the magic of Dragon’s cheesemakers. Dragon is famous for its cheddar, from mild Welsh cheddar at three months of age through to vintage cheddar at 18 months of age. The signature cavern aged cheese is aged 500 feet below ground at Llechwedd slate caverns. Available in leading supermarkets, food outlets, deli counters or in handy 200g self-service pre-pack. Choose from cavern aged, vintage mature, mature, mild and mature light. For more information visit www.dragonwales.co.uk. For trade enquiries, contact Alfred Gera and Sons Limited on 2144 6205.

FLOWER POWER Cartier La Panthére Celeste Limited Edition is classified as a chypre fruity fragrance. Scent notes of La Panthére Celeste Limited Edition Cartier include top notes of apricot, sweet dried fruit, red apple, strawberry, rhubarb, middle notes of gardenia and base notes of musk, and oak moss. La Panthére Celeste explores the signature floral aroma bringing together gentle gardenia and velvety notes of musk. Cartier fragrances are exclusively distributed by Chemimart. For more information call on 2149 2212.



Christmas Times - December 2016