Las Fallas

by Goldie on March 17, 2012

in Society and Culture

The festival is in full swing now. Today all day long there were constantly bands, complete with a retinue of Falleras, marching up one street or another and accompanied by the many explosions as everyone old enough to walk is setting off some firecracker or another. I think the guy at the pyrotechnics store was shocked that I wanted only one box of 50 bombetas (picture those snaps you used to be able to get that you could throw at the ground to make go boom…and triple the size).

I just got back from the 1am fireworks. It is the third night of fireworks (and there is one more night to go) but it was the first one I have made it too. The whole city was awake (including babes in strollers.) As I headed out at about 12:15 when I passed the pyrotechnics store it was still open. Surely you didn’t expect individual pyrotechnics to stop during the official fireworks.

As I walked over to the Turia (former river bed, now park, where the fireworks would be held) I had to smile as every restaurant and little corner store was open, not to mention stands set up with an impromptu bar or sausage stands. The churros, buñuelos y chocolate stands were still blazing, but this late at night they just smelled like tired oil, so my usual wish I could partake had fled for the night.

My route took me by the Ofrenda. The Fallas, from what I can tell has always been made of these wooden structures depicting scenes on the edge of what was the social norms. Sort of political protests that have been part of Valencia for centuries. Nonetheless this defiant behavior is tied in closely with the Church. The burning of the statues, the Crema, occurs on S. Joseph day, and as part of the festival a giant wooden frame as the dress of the Virgin (holding the Child) is set up, and people stream in in traditional dress bearing flowers which will be woven into the frame. This is the Ofrenda. The procession today had started at 15:30 (3:30 pm) today and was just finishing up with some anthems as I passed through the square at about 0:30.

As I completed my walk I had to pity anyone who was trying to drive. I crossed two fairly major roads and people just walked through the middle (or danced and lay down depending on what group it was). No the streets weren’t closed, but that didn’t really matter.

The fireworks started on time and were wonderful to see and hear. Alongside the official fireworks there were a few local “booms” as people where I was standing set off their on firecrackers. It wasn’t until the walk home that someone decided decided to set off one of the ground flowers, on the main street, in the middle of a bunch of people. Other than some sprinting away no harm was done, but it did remind one to stay on their toes.

On the way back home some of the restaurants were closing up, but as I made it down my street I could hear parties in the tents of the Casals (the groups that worked to put up their neighborhood/corner Falla (of which there are over 300 in the city)). And as I type this I hear a band marching along down the street from here. Ah the party in the streets is still roaring (and booming) at 2:40 am.

And with that I sign off from Valencia Spain.

{ 1 comment }

Raven March 17, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I’m so very glad you’re enjoying your visit Goldie. You’ve needed this – and honestly I’m living a bit vicariously through you right now. 🙂


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