The Quccija

Quccija Tray
Photo, erm, borrowed from Flickr. Click on it to be taken to the users' profile.

My first nephew turned one in December. To celebrate it, my brother and his wife organised a small celebration at their house. It was just the immediate family: my parents, my brothers and sister and the respective better halves.

The reason for the meeting? Well, quite naturally to augur baby Diego a very happy first birthday, but as part of the process the little prince also had to decide his career. How? Through of a Maltese tradition called Il-Quccija (pron: qu-chee-yah). I can’t give a translation because I have never encountered the tradition or anything like it anywhere in the world, but I can explain what it’s all about.

In a quccija, which is held on a baby’s first birthday, the parents and relatives of the child set up an area with a variety of objects (preferably safe ones) which symbolize different career paths. The child is then allowed to roam freely and in theory should precipitate towards the item that indicates what he will do when he grows up.

Research shows that the tradition dates back to the 18th century – and quite naturally the objects that used to be presented to children at the time were indicative of the skills that were needed then. It was far more likely to find tools of traditional trades like carpenters, shoe-makers, stone masons combined with religious or army related objects. Since this was before the age of political correctness, girls used to be presented with a different set of objects which targeted female-oriented jobs.

Nowadays boys and girls practically get the same set of objects. Modern-day items would include:

  • A spoon – Chef
  • A gavel – Lawyer
  • A calculator – Accountant
  • White-board marker – Teacher
  • Stethoscope or thermometer – Doctor
  • Bible – Priest/ nun
  • Money – A successful entrepreneur

Parents usually take the liberty to add or remove items, and as such there is no strict set that must be present. At the end of the day it is just a bit of fun and recognised by all present as being such.

And just in case you were wondering – Diego picked up a banking security key (which we took to mean wealth/ or being a banker) and the spoon (so he might be a wealthy chef).

(#15 of 366 X 2012 project)