A stone’s throw away from the village of Kerċem is the quiet and old hamlet of Santa Luċija. The area which is known for the natural spring water which gushes out from Għar Ilma Hill is said to be one of the oldest inhabited zones of the Maltese islands precisely because it is also a very fertile spot.
The community of Santa Luċija is still closely tied to traditions and is very eager and passionate about keeping them live. The feeling of a pastoral and rural lifestyle is still highly felt in the hamlet and it is no wonder that the area is sought by many who rent farmhouses to get away from it all and enjoy idyllic country views.
Few might know the annual Fjakkolata – Celebration of Light, when thousands of flaming lanterns are lighted over the Għar Ilma Hill, that takes place every October, dates back to over 60 years ago. Every October, the community in Santa Luċija would organise a procession to commemorate the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. In those days, there was no street lighting and the villagers resorted to using torchlight around the route of the procession. They also had a blazing bonfire on top of Għar Ilma Hill. When electricity arrived and the torchlight was no longer needed, the villagers still continued to light up the hill on the Sunday in October that is the closest to the 13th (the date of the apparition of Fatima).
This year’s Fjakkolata on Sunday 8th of October will start with a religious service at 6.00 p.m., followed by the procession at around 7.00 p.m. and by 8.00 p.m., the Santa Luċija square will be alive with music. The Astra Folk Group and singer Mario Caruana will entertain the audience. It’s a great opportunity to mix with the locals and relish traditional and local food. If you’re a photography enthusiast, this is one event in the Gozitan calendar that you cannot miss!
Later on in October, on the weekend between the two opera productions, Santa Luċija will beckon once more, this time for ‘Symphony of Lights’. On Friday 20th October, The Gozo Youth Wind Band & Orchestra will hold a concert in the quaint square, right in front of the charming church. A fireworks display will light up the sky and once again it’s the perfect occasion for indulging in traditional food and drinks.