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Victory Day – September 8 (Malta)
The celebration of Victory Day (or Otto Settembre) in Malta occurs on September 8 As a result, three historical sieges on the Maltese archipelago have ended: the Ottoman Empire’s Great Siege of Malta ended in 1565; the French Blockade’s Siege of Valletta ended in 1800; and the Axis forces’ Siege of Malta during World War II ended in 1943.
Senglea, Naxxar, and Mellieha in Malta, as well as Xaghra in Gozo, celebrate the Nativity of Mary on this day. Locals refer to it as il-Bambina and il-Vitorja (the Victory). On Victory Day, the Grand Harbour hosts the annual regatta with boat racing.
Events of September 8
The Sicilian navy Gran Soccorso arrived on the Maltese coasts on September 7, 1565, and helped the Maltese, delaying the Turkish attack. The Ottomans, who had been besieging the Birgu and Isla areas for more than three months, withdrew their forces and evacuated that area of the island the following day. The Great Siege, regarded as one of the deadliest in world history and Malta’s most significant siege, ended on this day, although fighting continued in the area now St. Paul’s Bay.
Another historical event connected to the celebration on this day is the French troops’ surrender to Emmanuele Vitale and Canon Francesco Saverio Caruana on September 4, 1800.
In November 1942, the Second World War’s Malta siege ended. Over two years, 3,000 bombing raids on Malta destroyed the ports and Royal Air Force defences. Following King George VI of the United Kingdom’s reign of terror, the entire island the George Cross in appreciation for suffering, and the Maltese flag now features the George Cross’s design.
Italy withdrew from the war, ceased hostilities with the Allies, and turned against its former German partner on September 8, 1943. Italy’s prime minister, Marshal Pietro Badoglio, read, “The Italian Government has requested an armistice from General Eisenhower in recognition of the impossibility of battling the enemy unequally and avoiding further and more grievous armistices.”
It has been agreed to this request. Therefore, the Italian forces will end all hostilities against the Anglo-American forces wherever they may be found. In a transmission from Allied Headquarters in North Africa, U.S. Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower announced the news of the unconditional surrender, “effective this minute.” To surrender, the Italian fleet headed to Malta.
On September 7, Valletta will host cultural events honouring Victory Day, including literary readings, musical performances, and visual arts exhibitions. The Maltese hymn is eventually played as the Armed Forces of Malta parade down Republic Street in Valletta on Victory Day and arrive at the Co-Cathedral of St. John. Later that day, the most senior officers are given a mass at the same temple. The President honours the World War II casualties by laying a symbolic garland at the base of the Great Siege monument to mark the occasion.
The main event is a boat race put on by the Maltese Council for Sport, or regatta in local parlance, which takes place in the Grand Harbour and involves the affiliated societies Cospicua, Vittoriosa, Birzebbuga, Marsa, Marsamxett, Kalkara, and Isla. Several boat races are separated into two categories.
A commemorative event for Gozo is held in Rabat’s Independence Square under the direction of the Minister for Gozo. The Malta Armed Forces participate in a parade before laying a wreath at the base of the war memorial honouring Christ the King of the Jews.
The day also commemorates the birth of Mary, and in Xagra, Naxxar, Senglea, and Mellieha, feasts are held.