The history of “Las Fallas”
The origin of the festivities of “Las Fallas” goes back to an ancient tradition. On the eve of their patron saint´s day San José, the carpenters of the city burned all the wood that was leftover from winter. This included the leftovers and the wooden contraptions they used to put up the lamps that illuminated them during their work in the dark winter.
They burned all this in front of their workshops, in the streets and public squares. That is the reason why nowadays they burn the monuments on the 19th, the day of San José.
In the 18th century, they started to use piles of combustible materials as “fallas”. Slowly and over time, with the use of criticism and irony, these “fallas” evolved into what they are now. Ironic scenes of social themes, problems, and famous politicians and persons.
The start of the tradition, as we know it
In 1885 the movement in defense of the traditional festivities came to life. As a result, a prize-winning competition was started by the magazine “La Traca”. Because of that, a competition broke out between the residents of different neighborhoods. And the birth of the artistic “fallas”. In this competition, the esthetics were valued over the criticism.
At the beginning of the 20th century, in 1901, the town hall started to award prizes for best “fallas”. This resulted in a union between the residents and the political forces of the town. As a result, the festivities grew with large steps in numbers, structure, and organization.
From 1932 the festivities started as an entire week, the “Semana Fallera”. And from that time it converted into the biggest festival in the Valencian community. At present day, and just in Valencia capital, more than 700 fallas are burned.
Today, the “fallas” start on the first of March and end on the 19th of the month. During this time every day at 14.00 hrs, there is a “mascletà” on the square in front of the town hall. A mascletà is a fireworks show where they use lots of gunpowder to create a unique beat that almost sounds like a musical rhythm.
Throughout the night of the 15th to 16th of March all the falleros and falleras start to put up their “fallas”. They all try to finish their pieces during the dawn of the 16th so the public and visitors can appreciate them.
Early morning on the 17th of March, after the members of the jury visited all the statues, the prizes are handed out to the winners on the town hall square.
Fireworks and “Nit de Foc”
The last nights of the “Fallas” period are as spectacular as everything else during this time. A fantastic fireworks display, a true show of light, color, and sound fills the Valencian sky at midnight. From the 15th of March until the 18th people come together on the Paseo de la Alameda to see this display. The night of the 18th of March is the most spectacular night of all of them. The “Nit del Foc” (Fire night) is the most amazing fireworks show of its kind in the entire world.
La Crema (the Burning)
They burn all the statues on March 19. At 22.00 hrs the smaller monuments made by the children will be set alight. At midnight the large sculptures are next, to be finished by the burning of the last monument at the town hall square at 01.00 Hrs. Before the last statue burns, there is a final fireworks show leading up towards the end of another year of spring festivities.
Every part of the town of Valencia celebrates the “Fallas”. People living in other cities and parts of Spain come back to enjoy these times with friends and family. It is a true time of celebration and definitely worth a visit. It is as if the town comes back to life after a dark cold winter.
We hope you can find time to visit “Las Fallas” this year. We have included the program in order for you to easily see what is on and where. Feel free to comment us with your experiences or pictures of this event that marks the beginning of spring.
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