Las Fallas – creativity consumed by fire

Las Fallas is a traditional Valencian celebration held in commemoration of St Joseph. The term Fallas refers to both the celebration and the monuments created during the celebration. Each neighbourhood of the city has an organized group of people, the Casal faller, that works all year long holding fundraising parties and dinners to pay for the faller.

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Each casal faller produces a construction known as a falla which is eventually burnt. Its a serious competition, and mind boggling that all these extraordinary structures – bar two chosen by popular vote – are consumed in the flames. The Las Fallas museum has an element from each of the winners over the past 75 years. It was filled with people checking out past winners, all life sized figures.

 

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Next stop a visit to the Exposicion del Ninot, the display of  year’s Fallas, so people can vote for the two to be saved from the flames. Political figures were satirised, with no holds barred, social commentary was made and artistic heritage celebrated.

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Furthermore, daily at noon, fireworks are discharged in the plaza next to the exposicion (they’re warming up for the real deal later in March). Its at least a kilometre from the apartment and I never fail to jump every time they go off. Closer, it would be ear splitting! These explosions will increase in frequency all over the city until the big night when there’s a massive explosive discharge in the heart of the city. The city is also shut down to vehicular traffic, because all of the monuments are brought into the major intersections for viewing before being ignited. They can be several storeys tall. I understand the fire brigade is on standby but, given there are several hundred of these fires, thousands of spectators and a closed city, perhaps St Joseph watches over things!