Sunday 17 February 2019

Why the Eurovision means so much

(Photo by Frederick Zammit)

Every year, my fascination with the Eurovision continues unabated – not with the festival itself, but with the reactions it provokes in the collective Maltese psyche.

We hate it, we love it – we love to hate it; some with a fierce passion, some with groaning exasperation, and some with a delicious tongue-in-cheek humour which flourishes on FB where everyone becomes Terry Wogan for the night.

There are those who are true blue Eurovision fans and who would not miss it for the world, and who see every vote which is not for Malta as an unforgivable slight and an unacceptable slap in the face.  What is it about this festival which turns us into such fervent patriots? When we do well we feel a warm fuzzy glow inside, a validation that others have recognised our tiny country – and we feel like we are going to burst with pride. (By “we” I just mean a part of the population, of course.  Others are adamant in their feeling of disgust at the whole thing and feel nauseous at the very mention of the word ‘Eurovision’)

Patriotism this morning is running at a fever pitch as we congratulate ourselves that “our Kurt” has made us proud and has done the unthinkable – he made it through to the final night. Phew! It has been so long we almost forgot what it felt like.

The last time Malta was represented in the finals was when Chaira took part (again) in 2009.  In the two years after that, both Thea Garrett and Glenn Vella (much to our horror) were dispatched home in the semi-finals. There was much gnashing of teeth and shaking of fists at the voting system – how dare they! Some vowed to boycott it,  but many still watched it furtively if only to confirm how we were robbed of a place in those coveted finals.

Neighbours, those dratted neighbours (or lack of them) are blamed with annual precision.

But this morning – ah, the sun is shining, neighbours have materialised out of nowhere (did the earth move for you?) and all is right with the world.

Malta and its crazy obsession with the Eurovision is one of the reasons I love this funny, old island in that way which people are often very fond of slightly wacky relatives.  Tomorrow’s final is going to see more wringing of hands and anxious furrowing of brows:  Votive candles are probably being lit as we speak, and pilgrimages are probably being organised to Girgenti.

I think I’m going to go back to bed, because my poor heart can’t stand all this excitement.


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