In the XVIII. century, they paid tribute to Saint Joseph, the patron saint of woodworkers and carpenters in Valencia (March 19), by setting up a bonfire from waste wood in front of their workshops to cleanse from the old bad and greet the new with the arrival of spring. From the strong cultural love of the locals, the Fallas celebration has grown into a huge celebration. It has become more and more widespread in the European countries and it has become a tradition of winter holidays, which the Spanish have celebrated in more and more places.
At that time, they were still strongly believed in the purifying power of the fire and they began to carve puppets for themselves, which they burned to bid farewell to the winter and to welcome the spring.
With time, more and more masters began to carve puppets, which were no longer the result of ugly and oversized carving. Rather, they were inspired by everyday life, mocking figures that had already been worked out nicely, creating real masterpieces. Drawing on the theme of everyday life, caricatures do not spare politics either.
Later, the masters of several city quarters (In Spanish barrios) came together and sculpted a larger statue depicting the sculpture of what had happened in the city and mocking current politics.
Interestingly, there is not much-written material on the Fallas Feast. The first written record comes from the time back to 1784, but it was only important to secure the bonfires, that is, the placement plan for fire protection purposes. At first, the celebration was only 2 days long, the first day was the presentation of the works and the next day the burning of the statues. As more and more people became interested in the festival, guests came from other provinces to the festival, so every year more programs were added to the celebration. From the middle of the 20th century onwards, the event expanded to 5 days, with more trains coming from other provinces filled with visitors interested in the event.
Today it is a popular event and a tourist attraction. Every year nearly 800 Fallas march on the streets and squares of downtown between March 15th and 19th. (Falla was originally a wooden sculpture, nowadays it is a mixture of wood, paper pulp and styrofoam, which is beautifully painted and decorated).
Nowadays we can call these works because there are several smaller statues on the pedestal. Each part of the town, neighborhood community supports a small team who work throughout the year on a planned creation. The streets of downtown are mostly closed, setting up tents for teams and residents to entertain. The statues are huge and very serious planning precedes the work.
The celebration begins as early as 1st March, named after a firecracker, Mascletá. Firecrackers sound opens the ceremony in front of the town hall and then accompanies the entire program series. Then, every day at 2 am, firecrackers are launched from the Town Hall Square, which is made visible by colourful pyrotechnics during the day. The volume of firecrackers, the bursts and the smoke in the downtown area is almost reminiscent of a war zone. It is not uncommon for windows to break from high air pressure, but this can now be seen behind a secure cord.
They selected the work that will be saved and not become a fiery flame with Voting. The winning statue is exhibited at the Museo de Fallas every year, and the best statues are collected from 1901 for posterity.
On the last day at 10 o’clock, they were burning the smaller pieces, and at midnight, the large ones – up to 27 meters tall – are created and handed over to the purifying fire.Facing the fire, one of the Spanish eyes cries and the other laughs. The beautiful sculpture compositions are destroyed by the sight of them and with it the work of the past year. The next day the construction teams are starting to plan, that they start planning the next grand fiesta and everything starts all over again.
Paella also has a cooking competition in the city, with music, dance and firecrackers continuing.
The traditional Valencian musicians dress up in traditional folk costumes, playing Dolcaina (wind instrument) and Tabalon (Spanish drum). The dresses are stunningly beautiful, ornate and colourful, so the participants will wear their most beautiful festive dress. The visitor has the feeling of the XVIII. -XIX. century. Valencian traditional costumes are made of expensive fabrics in many colours, with lots of jewellery and lace accessories. The ladies hairstyle is distinctive and completely identical, with many beautiful gold and silver studs.
In the tents, the work of the local artisans makes Las Fallas Fest even more interesting. Local fan makers, jewellers, carvers, weavers and tailors are also represented.
The program of Las Fallas:
The Fallas statues will be on view from early February until March 15. The statues can be voted on and the most voted masterpiece will be on display at the Museo de Fallas. Then the works are taken to the streets and squares of the city, where they are set on fire on the evening of the 19th when the winning statue is announced.
The Masquerade starts earlier, on 1st March, and firecrackers crackling at 2 pm every day until the end of the fiesta. The big noise is caused by the fact that approx. in 6 minutes, 120 kilos of gunpowder are consumed by pyrotechnics, generating huge clouds of smoke with bursts of lightning.
- Flower Sacrifice rituale
Spanish people are religious, and there can not be missed the sacrifice before the patron saint of the city. The Mother of the Blessed (Virgen de los Desamaparodos) is also the patron saint of flowers. Participants dressed in ornate folk costumes put white and red flowers in a 15-meter tall wooden patron saint set in front of the Basilica on 17th and 18th March. The procession is arranged in two rows, separate for the long serpentine row of white and red flowers. Nearly 100,000 bouquets are carried over the two days, decorating the statue of the Virgin, and a flower carpet of flowers what is decorating the frontage of the Basilica. After the last flower is spelt, there is a half-hour fireworks display called Nit de Fok.
- La Cremá
La Crema, is the most popular event in Las Fallas, begins at dawn on 20th March, when many of the exhibited puppets are lit and burned. It is a unique and extraordinary event, and the most spectacular of all when so many beautiful works are surrounded by a dance of flames until they become ashes. This event concludes the celebration of the famous Las Fallas in the City of Valencia and the Province of Valencia.
I can say that I am lucky because I could see the preparations and some of the unwrapped artwork with my family. This unusual event was accidentally mixed on 13th March, two days before the opening ceremony. We had so much experience and sight, even so, I hope we can follow this 5-day spectacular Fiesta.