Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Las Fallas

In Valencia, Spain, in March a celebration is held each year called Las Fallas. It is a week long celebration that takes place from March 15 through 19 for Saint Joseph and for the return of spring. It is a celebration that includes elaborate cardboard and cork creations called Fallas (meaning torch), fireworks, and at the end a gigantic city-wide fire.

The city begins preparations for the next Fallas right after the previous one ends. That's because they have a lot of building to do. Each neighborhood works together to construct cartoonish sculptures that often have a satirical edge to them. These structures were originally made out of wax. After time the builders started using cardboard. Now most people are using cork or polystyrene. The creations are elaborately painted and brought out onto the streets on March 15.

Every day of the festival there are parades marching through the city. And every night there are fireworks displays throughout the city at 2:00 p.m. Everyone takes part, throwing fireworks and noisemakers into the street all evening. Various groups compete with large fireworks displays in the hopes of putting on the last night's performance. Each night the displays grow bigger and bigger until March 19, the last night.

On an evening known as La Crema, people gather around the structures that have been so lovingly and carefully built. Many of them are filled with fireworks. In staggered hours they are each lit on fire causing massive fire and firework displays. The fires are lit and extinguished all night as they move closer and closer to the city center which has the most elaborate structures and will end up with the most elaborate fire. The images from this are spectacular. I've seen pictures after each year's Fallas and every time I am shocked and awed. It is a mixture of wonderful beauty and of excitement. A creative carnivale. I must make a trip to Valencia to see it.

All photos are from the official Fallas website with the exception of the last one. The La Crema shot is from the Telegraph.


Skem said...

Did you know that in the Jain religion adherents spend most of August fasting and thinking about people they might have hurt or wronged. At the end of the month they personally apologize to those people. Parties for Spring and a month of atonement are two traditions I could embrace. Great post Cat.

Cat B said...

What a wonderful tradition! I think we should practice this year. I'm sure that I'll be able to think of many people that I should apologize to.

Thanks for letting me know about this. The Jain religion has always interested me but I still don't know much about it. It seems such a wonderfully peaceful religion.