THE spring equinox is fast approaching, the nights are getting lighter, the days warmer and for any true blooded Valencian, it is the start of one of the most fantastic festivals you will see anywhere on the planet; The Fallas!
This two-week celebration is to Valencia what the Carnival is to Rio with preparations starting for the next event the day the preceding one finishes, every year promising to be bigger and better, each attracting millions of people from around the world. But this year the Valencian people really do have something to celebrate after the Fallas celebration was added to the list of intangible cultural heritage of human rights list on 30th November 2016.
Tuesday 28th February saw the official start to the daily “Fallas” programme with the Mascletà in the town hall square at 2 o’clock. This is where thousands of firecrackers are ignited getting louder and louder as they go, creating the sensation of a “terremoto” (earthquake) and this event will now continue up to the final day of the festival on Sunday 19th March.
Over the next two weeks there will be music, parades, lots of parties and the streets and squares of the busy city will become filled with over 800 individual statues, each carefully designed and brightly painted, that ultimately will be burned on the last day.
On the 17th and 18th March, the city celebrates “La ofrenda de flores” (the offering of the flowers) which is a procession by the “Falleras” which each offer a bunch of flowers to a 12 meter high virgin Mary that is constructed of wood in the “Plaza de la Virgen” next to the Cathedral and the flowers are placed colour by colour until the structure is completed.
The statues that line the street and squares are caricatures of fanciful figures, famous people, and politicians in provocative poses arranged in a gravity-defying manner as they reach up into the sky, with some of them being over 30 metres tall. The festival itself is held in commemoration of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters and marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
It is said that the tradition started in the middle ages, when artisans disposed of broken artefacts and pieces of wood they saved during the winter by burning them to celebrate the spring equinox.
Valencia carpenters used planks of wood to hang their candles on during the winter to provide the light they needed to work. With the arrival of spring, they were no longer needed and so burned.
Over time and with the intervention of the church, the date of the burning was made to coincide with the celebration of the festival of Saint Joseph and has grown to what we see today as one of the largest celebrations in Spain.
If you would like to see this spectacular event, Round Town Travel are offering an excursion on Saturday 18th March.