The concept of pika is a cornerstone of Maltese culture; it’s written into the skyline of the capital Valletta, and permeates across all walks of life.
There is a competitive nature that permeates through Malta so raw and unbridled that it’s written into the skyline of its capital, Valletta, and permeates across all walks of life on the archipelago.
I’m talking about pika – a Maltese word that roughly means ‘a neighbourly rivalry’, but is one of those terms that feels like a fool’s errand when foreigners try to interpret it.
Pika is, as Professor George Cassar, who teaches heritage and cultural tourism at the University of Malta explained, what drives Maltese to outdo their immediate rivals. Usually, this rivalry involves followers of different saints within the same town – a ‘this-town-isn’t-big-enough-for-both-of-us’ attitude – and ranges from benign sportsmanship to premeditated aggression.