Fallas de Valencia

Fallas de Valencia
Фото: fallasfromvalencia.com
Las Fallas de Valencia (the Falles) is an annual celebration held in the Spanish city of Valencia. It is held in commemoration of Saint Joseph and thus ends on the saint’s feast day, March 19. The main festivities are held during the four days leading up to March 19.

The origin of the Falles festival is unclear. According to one of the most popular versions, the celebration dates back to the Middle Ages. Every spring, artisans disposed of pieces of wood they used to hang their candles on during the winter. Wooden pieces called parots were burnt to celebrate the vernal equinox. As the ritual was pagan in nature, the Catholic Church intervened and moved the celebration so that it would coincide with the feast of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters.

The celebration continued and new traditions began to evolve. People started to dress the parots in clothing, essentially making effigies which often reminded of people from the neighborhood. Over the years, primitive effigies have transformed into elaborate dolls made from papier-mâché, cardboard, paper, wood, and other combustible materials. They are called the ninots.

Most ninots are satirical in nature, they are made to mock whatever catches the attention of their creators, be it Barack Obama or Vladimir Putin. There are ninots that represent celebrities, pop culture characters, etc. Local artists and craftsmen spend weeks to create incredible dolls which they take out for a grand parade during the Falla festival.

The most interesting thing about the festival is that all these masterpieces are burned in the streets of Valencia after being showcased for a few days. The ninots are used to assemble fallas or falles, giant sculptures mounted on a firecracker-filled base. The fallas are 3 to 20 meters in height, sometimes even higher. Each monument consists of several ninots, typically arranged around one or more central figures called remates.

Each day of the Falles begins at 8 am with a wake-up call called La Despertà. The festivities during the day include parades of the falles, firework displays, street parties, and more. The festival culminates at 7 pm on March 19 when the Cavalcada del Foc (the Fire Parade) is held. It is followed by the cremà which is the act of setting fire to the fallas and watching them burn. The main falla is the last to be burnt, its burning takes place in front of the town hall late at night.

Fallas de Valencia

Photo: Wolfgang Appel




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