Fireworks in Malta have a long tradition which goes back to the time of the Order of the Knights of St. John. The feu de joie using gun salutes, the musketterija firing of muskets, the solfarelli d’aria, St. Catherine’s wheels (irdieden) and other forms of fireworks originated from explosives that were lit off from mortars (maskli) as an expression of rejoicing. Special occasions when such festivities were held were: the election of a Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of St. John, the election of a Pope who was the overall protector and ruler of the Order, the birth of a prince from a friendly European state or else to mark an important victory over the Ottoman military might. Fireworks developed into a craft when the Maltese started to celebrate the events connected to their British rulers in the 19th and 20th centuries. This centuries-old tradition is still very much alive in the crowded calendar of village festas that take place all over Malta and Gozo, especially in the summer months.

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