God bless and bull’s horns

bull's horn malta

My trouble with pronouncing Hungarian vowels is legendary, if nowhere else than in my own mind. But for me, Hungarian has met its match in Maltese. Take the word qrun, which translates into the more manageable bull’s horns. Try as I might I can’t get my tongue to give it a shape that is remotely recognisable. But I can do the sign language! And this, apparently, is vital to survival in Malta.Maltese superstitions, bull's horns, God Bless

The Maltese are  a superstitious lot and it’s pretty easy to get a name for yourself on the island as a jinx. Just suppose we are chatting and I compliment you on, say, your teeth. And then later that day, you trip and fall and break your front tooth. Or, if we’re chatting over dinner and I remark on your outfit and then not five minutes later you knock your fork off your plate and land a dollop of spag bol on your pristine white shirt. Or, I tell you you’re headed for great things and the next day you lose your job, your partner dumps you, and even your cat won’t talk to you. Well, even if I had no intention of causing any of this, word will get around that I’m a jinx.And pretty soon, no-one will be talking to me, in any language!

So, in order to avoid creating that impression, any time I say something good about you, I need to tag on a ‘God bless’ at the end. It sounds weird, admittedly. ‘Love the hair – God bless’. ‘Great new car – God bless’. ‘Fantastic news about our promotion – God bless’. But hey, needs must! Now if I don’t know any better and haven’t been let in on this ‘God bless’ thing, then you can make the qrun sign to ward off any unintended evil that might come your way. Just to be sure. You’ve been warned!

On a child’s first birthday, the Quccija is done. [Will anyone lend me an infant?]  Sit the child in front of  a pen, a thermometer, money, rosary beeds, a toothbrush, an egg – whatever your imagination can come up with, and whichever object the child picks will denote its future!

Apart from this qrun thing and the quccija, there’s the keeping of an olive branch behind the door, the bżaru aħmar (chile pepper with a crown) in the window, and the eye to ward off evil. Look at the traditional Maltese fishing boat,  called a luzzu. See the two eyes painted on the bow? These are to ward off the evil spirits that might be lurking in some harbour or inlet.

Maltese superstitions, bull's horns, God Bless

Going to Malta? Forget the sunscreen. Instead, pack your bull’s horns, an olive branch, and an extra eye.



Never miss a post

Sign up here to get an email whenever I post something new.

More Posts

Bázakerettye: the Dallas of Hungary and so much more

Rumour has it that how you spend the first day of a new year is how you’ll spend the rest of that same year. To

József Nádor Tér, Budapest

In the spring of 2016, József Nádor Tér made the news in Hungary. The square was being renovated in the name of urban planning. The

Csónakázó-tó, Nagykanizsa, Hungary

I was sure I’d seen all there was to see in Nagykanizsa and had dutifully written it up to share with others who might find

Keszthely, Hungary

The signpost welcoming visitors to Keszthely, one of the largest towns on Lake Balaton, says that it’s 775 years old. And indeed, it does have

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: