Live crib at Lija where it started
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Live crib at Lija where it started

Locality has hosted a live crib since 1962

A derelict farmhouse in Lija is being transformed into a walkthrough live crib, complete with a waterfall, a windmill and animal pens.

The locality has been hosting a live crib since 1962, when it was organised by the late Fr Anton Ebejer in the gardens of the old church of the Transfiguration.

The crib had been inaugurated by Archbishop Michael Gonzi. It changed venues a couple of times since and was given a miss on a few occasions, including the past two Christmas seasons.

Two brothers, Joe and Frans Portelli, presidents of the St Andrew Social Club and the St Pius X Band Club respectively, have now joined forces to set up the crib once again.

“Lija held the first live crib in Malta and we would like to keep the tradition alive,” Joe Portelli told the Times of Malta. To this end, volunteers have been working round the clock since mid-October at the site lent to them by the Fenech family, of Blokrete Ltd.

We would like to keep the tradition alive

When completed, the crib will host about 60 re-enactors and include various traditional features like an olive press, a bakery, carpenter and blacksmith workshops and a weaver. The main attraction will, of course, be the Nativity scene where two babies, about a year old, will represent Baby Jesus.

Live animals, including a cow, sheep, ducks, chickens, rabbits and piglets, will be present too.

Oranges, for which Lija is particularly known, qagħaq ta’ l-għasel (honey rings), imqaret (date-filled pastries) and mulled wine, besides other Christmas-related items, will be on sale at the premises.

The live crib, which will be blessed by Archbishop Charles Scicluna on December 8, will remain open until December 25 in Robert Mifsud Bonnici Street, Lija (in front of the local council). It will be open on Saturdays from 6 to 8.30pm and on Sundays and public holidays from 3.30 to 8.30pm.

Entrance is against a €1 donation.

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