Spain and especially Valencia
is filled with tradition, and Las Fallas is the most popular and outstanding
tradition in this marvellous city. It is a festival where everyone can
participate whether you are from the local land, a foreigner who has chosen
to spend some time there or an intentional tourist who has planned to visit
the city on purpose to find out what emotions can be lived. Satire and
gaiety are two very important concepts that you must keep in mind along
with good food and entertainment on practically every corner. It is always
held from March 15th to the 19th, Saint Joseph's Day, when the great bonfire
or Fallas are burnt. Let's find what its all about.
No one really knows how it
all started, but it seems to have began with a pagan festival having to
do with Saturn, something very much celebrated in the old Roman Times.
All activities were put aside except cooking, in those times done over
wooden fires where a lot of kindling wood was not only used for light and
cooking but also to alert the towns people and those travelling by sea.
Saturn is also linked to Satan and there is no doubt that all this can
be tied together with fire and the pagan tradition of burning things to
get rid of bad spirits.
a more recent explanation will take you back to 16th century when the carpenters
guild used tall sticks with various arms and rags soaked in tar as if they
were candelabros for lighting in the streets in winter. But when spring
time came around, they did their spring cleaning and made heaps of wood
and all the material that they no longer needed in the town square with
the candelabros in the middle.
Soon, many people would take
advantage of this massive clean-out and threw old clothing and other household
objects. With the imagination of a few townsfolk and being as the candelabros
could be dressed with the old clothing, they started to make real like
figures, some of which looked quite like some of the people from the village.
And being as the people needed this time to organize their homes and some
time to enjoy themselves and the spring season, they made it an annual
event and from there - a tradition. They other surrounding neighbourhoods
started to do the same and now there are over 360 huge Fallas or intricately
elaborated carton monuments as if there were comics made real, just in
the capital of Valencia.
Fallas and spring cleaning
go hand in hand
But even though we can still
relive traditions from many centuries ago, none can escape progress. So
in order to make Valencia Fallas more well known, the printer guild came
up with booklets or pamphlets explaining what satire or criticism all the
different Fallas wanted to express.
Back then, the people did
not dare to openly criticize the king or political leader in power so the
figurines were mainly about machism and females who were "slaves" in their
own homes and to men. But this has completed changed and there is an ample
range of freedom in expression and very astutely done. The only problem
is that the explicative signs which accompany each fallas or carton monument
are in Valencian, the local language.
Easy come and easy stay
for Valencia Fallas
One of the best parts of
fully enjoying a popular festival is being able to get there and have a
comfortable stay with the minimal amount of problems possible. And thanks
to the nearness of the Valencia Airport to the city, the long lists of
flights you can catch daily from almost any European city, especially from
England, the wide range of prices and availability of hotels and the quickness
of having a car hire for your personal use, your trip cannot be anything
but a great success. And now with the city's preparation for the 2007 America's
Cup, the world's most important sailing competition, the whole port area
where many luxury yachts is being transformed, adding to the magic of Valencia