The Friends of the Crib - Malta was founded in 1986 with a simple, yet demanding role: to stop the decline of the Crib tradition and regenerate the idea of having a Crib at home for Christmas.
During the post-war years, after 350 years of popularity as the main Christmas attraction in Malta, the Christmas Crib started its decline making way for new customs and decorations like the Christmas Tree and Santa Claus who arrived with new gifts every year. These modern customs commercialized Christmas and moved the traditional 'presepju' to the periphery of the celebrations.
On the 7th October 1986, the GHAQDA HBIEB TAL-PRESEPJU - Malta was born and during its first General Meeting a Mission Statement was declared. The first Statute was outlined and a programme of activities was drafted. Meetings about the history and importance of the Crib were placed on the agenda and attracted new members and friends. Slowly but surely, the tradition of having a Crib at home for Christmas, found fertile ground and flourished once again. Lectures became practical courses where members learned the use of various materials and techniques for constructing their 'presepju'.
Today, the Friends of the Crib - Malta is made up of male and female members with ages varying between eight and eighty years. With nearly 500 members on its books, it is the largest organization in the Maltese Crib scene. It is also registered as a formal Non-Government Organization. Its contribution to the Crib culture and tradition is appreciated both locally and abroad.
Through the use of its website, backed by an active Public Relations office, the Ghaqda Hbieb tal-Presepju - Malta has built a contacts database which is constantly being used to exchange and bring together news and ideas about Crib cultures in Europe and beyond.
The Malta Convention for European Friends of the Crib in 2018 is intended to bring these cultures together encouraging them to uphold the message delivered by the Angels on the night of the first Christmas: "PEACE ON EARTH TO MEN OF GOODWILL." May this message be understood and practiced by all who seek fraternal friendship!
The Friends of the Crib - Malta has been set up with a mission. The following points may be taken as forming the Association's Mission Statement.
- To regenerate the tradition of having a Crib in Maltese homes at Christmas
- To bring together local Crib enthusiasts, leading them to create one big family around the Manger.
- To encourage Maltese writers, artists and artisans to feature the real Christmas and the 'presepju' in their works and to support them when they do so.
- To hold lectures about the history of the Christmas and organize practical courses about Crib construction for Association members and the general public.
- To set up a permanent exhibition/museum where works by past enthusiasts and artisans may be brought together and enjoyed by the public all the year round.
- To create and cultivate contacts with Friends of the Crib in other countries in order to exchange information about various traditions thus enriching the common culture about the Christmas Crib, its origins and its message.