God bless and bull’s horns

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.

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.

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

Share :

Share on twitter
Share on telegram
Share on whatsapp

Subscribe to get notified when I publish something new.

  • Explore

    • Book reviews (36)
    • Catriona Loughrey (1)
    • Cemeteries (35)
    • Hungary (116)
    • Ireland (86)
    • Markets (23)
    • Uncategorised (37)
    • Village life (88)
  • Talk to me...

    %d bloggers like this:

    By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information on cookies and GDPR

    Cookies and GDPR Compliance

    The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

    General Data Protection Regulation

    If you have voluntarily submitted your email address so that you can receive notifications of new posts, please be assured that I don't use your address for anything other than to do just that - and that's done automatically. I might use your address, if I knew how to, but I don't.

    This blog does not make money, it does not carry sponsored content, it has no ads for which I receive any form of payment. If I review a place or a restaurant or a book, I don't receive any compensation from anyone. I wish I did, but that would require marketing myself and life is too short. If something changes, I will be sure to let you know.

    You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe or manage subscription links at the bottom of every email you receive. When you comment on a blog post, Google Analytics tracks where you're posting from. This is stored and I can check my stats to see how many clicks I had today, where people clicked from, and what they clicked on. That's it. Nothing more.

    I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, particularly to other commenters. If you want to have one of your comments deleted, the please get in touch with me at: mary@irjjol.com. I'm all for the right to be forgotten so will happily oblige.

    So, in a nutshell, if you give me your email address voluntarily to subscribe to new posts or if you opt to subscribe to new comments, then you email is just used for this. Nothing else. Promise.