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Żejtun in the south of Malta has a population of 13,133 people. It holds the title of Città Beland, which was given by Grandmaster Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim in 1797. Żejtun, also known as Casal Bisbut, took its name from the Sicilian Arabic word for “olive” which was one of the main productive industries in Malta.
The local militia regiment of Żejtun was one of the first to engage the Ottoman forces in the initial stages of the Great Siege of 1565, but the town continued to suffer attacks by Turkish pirates up to 1614, when an attack by the Turks was repulsed without aid from other militias. Zejtun is the first town outside the main fortified areas of Malta to have a public garden which still stands today. The town also served a minor role in the French Blockade of 1799/1801 as a depot for soldiers. Żejtun passed the British-rule of the Maltese islands as a rural-backwater in the green fields of the Mazza Valley. In this period it had one of the many hospitals in Malta for wounded British and French soldiers in the First World War. These hospitals earned the island the nickname “Nurse of the Mediterranean”.
Żejtun boasts a large number of chapels such as the ones dedicated to St. Clement, Our Lady of Good Counsel, The Saviour, The Assumption, The Holy Spirit, St. Angelo, St. Nicholas, Our Lady of Mercy, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Signora and St. Mary of Hal Tmiem. The devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows among the people of Zejtun is strong, and this can be noticed from the chapels’ statues and the niches in the streets.
In the parish church dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria one can view statues that depict the passion of the Christ. The statues are used in the Good Friday processions. Another statue that attracts interest is the Our Lady of Sorrows' Statue, which portrays Our Lady and a small angel near her. The village feast of St. Catherine, which is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of June, is known for the rivalry between the local musical band clubs: the Beland Band Club and the Żejtun Band Club.
Since Malta's Independence, the town expanded rapidly due to home-ownership-schemes, industrial estates and housing estates built around the old village core. Żejtun is considered to be the hub of Maltese folk singing, l-għana, with many known folk singers emerging from this village.
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