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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Falles de Valencia

If there is one thing that the Spanish know well its festivals. With various celebrations on Saint’s days, Easter, Christmas and a host of other festivals, there is always something going on. Depending on if you like the peace and quiet or you love the idea of seeing some of Spain’s traditional fetes and festivals, the Fallas de Valencia festival could be the perfect thing to see while on holiday in spain.

Marking the Festival

A five day festival surrounding the celebration of Saint Joseph, ending on the 19th March. The name derives from the word falla which means ‘torch’. Every morning in the five days of the festival begins at 8am with large brass bands that march down the streets playing live music. Following that are the fallers who throw large firecrackers into the air to mark the festival days.
Every day at 2pm the clock tower will chime and the Fallera Mayor will come out onto the City Hall balcony and call out to the citizens to commence the Mascleta a series miniature firework displays that go off in each neighbourhood. The neighbourhoods will compete with each other for the honour of providing the final Mascleta on the 19th March.

Flower Offerings

During the days of the 17th and 18th March, all throughout the day offerings of flowers are made to the Holy Mary. The statue that stands in the city is soon covered in flowers, as well as its adorning pedestal, as a sign of respect.

Fireworks every Night

Every evening from the 15th to the 19th March has grand fireworks displays along the old riverbed, with each nights fireworks getting progressively grander until the crux of the festival on La Nit del Foc meaning the Night of Fire.

Ninots

Traditionally during the five days of the festival, families and neighbourhoods would get together and craft and build wooden figurines that they would burn on the last day of Fallas. These crafted figures were called ninots, and were traditionally in the basic shape of men and women. Normally inspiration was taken from events that had happened during the year to create the figurines, and the burning of these ninots would represent the cleansing of the ‘irony’ and ‘sin’ of the previous year.

More recent ninots are made out of cardboard, papier macher and wax, making them easier to burn and easier to carve. Artists, painters and sculptures can take months to sculpt and paint these ninots or fallas, for them to be burnt on the 19th March. These ninots can be as tall as the surrounding buildings, and often the flames from these fallas are so hot that festival goers can still feel the intense heat from metres away. Visitors are allowed to vote for which ninot they think is the best. At the end of the festival, the ninot with the winning vote is the only ninot that is saved from the burning or ‘La Crema’.

This lively, yet eerily haunting festival is normally accompanied with traditional dress, dancing, loud live music and dishes such as paella. It is strange to think that so much effort has been put into these stunning pieces of art, only to have most of them burnt on the day, but that is what makes this festival so fascinating.

About the Author:

Esthar Wood is a travel blogger with a keen interest in Spanish customs and traditions. She has contributed this post on behalf of Panorama Properties, real estate agents of repute on the Costa del Sol

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