Literally translated into ‘day of victory/ Victory Day’ , il- Vitorja celebrates a number of events which happened down the annals of history, starting as early as 1565. This 8th September is etched in stone for Malta, since it commemorates the end of the Great Siege of Malta which had seen the Ottomans holding Malta at their mercy with constant attacks from the sea. Between May 18 and September 11 1565, Malta was held at ransom through the heat of a very long and extremely dangerous summer, with the danger of falling captive of the feared Ottomans. Together with the Knights of St. John who at the time ruled Malta, the Maltese fought valiantly until the end.
This event alone deserves remembrance. However, September 7 also coincides with the termination of the short but intense French occupation of Malta during 1800.
A third coincidental event happened on the day, when the Italy Fascists and their regime were overthrown in 1943. Malta was thus free of constant Italian aerial bombardments and could concentrate on thwarting damage cause by the German air force.
As if that were not enough cause to celebrate in one day, four towns around Malta and Gozo celebrate ‘Il Bambina’ a religious feast dedicated to Our Lady Child. After the 1565 victory, the feast started being called ‘ Il-Vitorja’ – Our Lady of Victory. The towns are Mellieha , Sengela , Naxxar and Xaghra (Gozo).
So how does Malta commemorate all this historical build up? During the morning a variety of State ceremonies are held ahead of the traditional Regatta which livens up the Grand Harbour waters during the afternoon. Hundreds of people flock towards the harbour shores to watch the harbour town boat oars teams participate in this annual sea race. The 8th September is also a National Holiday in Malta.