Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Shrove Tuesday, Valletta

The climax of the Carnival in Malta was the Coccagna. This involved long beams set up against the guard-house opposite the Magistral Place in Valletta. From the beams were hung rope ladders, while the whole edifice was covered by fresh branches still in leaf. To these were tied live animals, baskets of eggs, hams , sausages, wreathes of oranges, and all sorts of other delicacies and provisions. The Coccagna was crowned by a globe made of linen surmounted by a figure of fame holding a flag emblazoned with the arms of the grand-master.

The great crowd that assembled in the square waited for the signal from the grand master. When this was given an official called the Gran Visconti made a flourish with his wand and the crowd surged forward to attack the Coccagna. The provisions of the Coccagna became the property of whomsoever seized them and they were able to get them safely through the crowd. This gave rise to furious fights.  The first to reach the figure of fame received a reward when he returned the standard to the grand-master. When the linen globe was broken it released a flight of doves.