The Fallas are a Valencian traditional celebration in praise of Saint Joseph (the patron saint of carpenters) in Valencia, Spain (in the middle of the Mediterranean coast). They celebrate the final days of the winter and the arrival of spring with spectacular fires and pyrotechnics.
The term "Fallas" refers to both the celebration and the monuments created during this celebration and it means "fire", "torches". It is Valencia's most international festival. From March 15 to 19th (the feast of Saint Joseph) the city fills with huge cardboard monuments called "ninots" (these are as puppets or dolls), for a competition that is marked by art, ingenuity and good taste.
There are different theories regarding the origin of the Falles Festival, One of them suggests that the Fallas started in the Middle Ages, when artisans put out their broken artifacts and pieces of wood that they sorted during the winter then burnt them to celebrate the spring equinox. At first they would make them look like human forms by decorating them with old clothes, in the mid 19th century they began to increase in size and height and to improve their forms, becoming huge decorative statues (some of them are created in excess of 30 meters).
During Fallas many people dress in the regional and Valencian costumes from different eras of Valencia's history, mainly in medieval clothing.
Most Valencian people...... dress up in Fallas Celebration
The "ninots" and their "fallas" are developed according to an agreed upon theme that was and continues to be a satirical jab at anything or anyone unlucky enough to draw the attention of the critical eyes of the fallers (the celebrants themselves).
Footballer Iker Casillas and
his journalist girlfriend, Sara Carbonero
Each day of Fallas week begins at 5 am with "la despertá" (the wake up call). Brass bands appear from the casals and begin to march down every road playing lively music.
yummy "buñuelos" (fritters) with hot chocolate
The "mascletá" is an explosive display of coordinated firecracker and fireworks barrages, that takes place in each neighbourhood at 2 pm every day of the festival, the main one takes place in the County Hall square.
There is also an offering of flowers to the Virgin, that occurs all day on the days 17th and 18th of March. The Virgin's body is then built with these flowers. They create a mountain of flowers 14 metres high.
And on the final night of Fallas, around midnight on March 19th, all the "Fallas" are burnt as huge bonfires and this is known as the "Cremá" (the burning) and this is of course the climax of the whole event and the reason why the constructions are called "fallas" . The "Cremá" is a fascinating spectacle of light, music and fireworks. All of the fallas are burnt except one ninot which, elected by a popular vote, is saved from the flames to form part of the collection at the Fallero Museum (the local Museum of ninots).
Undoubtedly the Fallas is one of the most unique and amazing festivals in Spain. I have to admit that I have never been to these celebration, but I have promised myself I'll go to visit it one of these years, though when I go I will remember to take with me a big box of earplugs!