¡Hola! My name is Ruth Bardisa, and I’m a Spanish teacher based in Valencia, Spain. I have been teaching since 2013, and have worked with students from around the world, from complete beginners to advanced.
These days we’re posting some information about Fallas, the festival of Valencia, and one of the most important of Spain.
Art, music and fireworks are the main elements of this colourful and noisy festival. Yes, noisy… Because Fallas means firecrackers everywhere (children throw them in the streets) and fireworks as well.
The most famous activity of the Fallas festival is the mascletà, a sort of fireworks that takes place at midday. The most famous ones are located at the Town Hall square, but each neighbourhood has a mascletà. For Valencian people, it sounds as music: the mascletà has its own rhythm, it’s like a sort of symphony. This one is from my hometown, l’Eliana.
Another midday firework is the “corretraca” (in English, that would be something as “running firecracker“). In the corretraca there are firecrackers that run around the neighborhood or village.
And Children have their own mascletà: the globotà (a funny word that mixes the Spanish word for “ballon” and “mascletà”). It is madre of balloons that children have to poke. That is a quite new tradition that children really love!
Valencia welcomes the spring with his most international festival: the Fallas. Fireworks, parades,hustle and bustle, light and joy, fire and noise … it’s time for fun, time to forget everything and enjoy. The Fallas festivities take to the streets of Valencia, which are completely transformed to honor Saint Joseph. In the week of 19 March, the city fills with more than 700 gigantic cardboard monuments -often 20 feet tall or even more- called fallas, for a competition that is marked by art, creativity and sense of humour. They are a window to current affairs: the monuments, in some way, satirises a political figure, or a soap star, or more exotic creatures from the movies, TV, sports idols, or simply imagination.
The origin of the celebration goes back to the carpenter’s parot: these were wooden lamps used to light their workshops in winter, which they would burn out in the street on the night before the feast of Saint Joseph. At first they would make them look like human forms by decorating them with old clothes and fabric. In the mid-19th century, however, they began to increase in size and height and to improve their forms, becoming huge decorative statues.
The ” ninots ” are the individual figures that make up the scenes in the Fallas monuments. At the beginning of February, each Committee donates its best ” ninot ” (just one) to a collective exhibition that is open to the public up until the day of the “plantà” (15th March), when each figure is collected by its Committee and taken back to the Fallas monument it belongs to on a noisy and colourful parade with whistles and brass bands.
Each visitor to this exhibition has the chance to vote for the “ninot” that he or she likes best: whether because of its originality or its design. When the time comes to close the exhibition, the votes are added up and the “ninot” with the largest number of votes is saved from the flames: this “ninot indultat” will have the honour of being the only “ninot” in all of Valencia that will not burn on the night of the 19th.
Here you have some pictures of 2015 Ninot Exhibition. Are you able to recognize these celebrities?
Although the most important acts are held during the week of the 19th, Valencia is busy preparing the festive atmosphere from 1 March with the mascletás, noisy firework displays that take place every day at 2pm in Town Hall Square.
The Ofrenda is the greatest expression of religious devotion in the whole Fallas Fiesta calendar, with an elegance, grandeur and visual impact that is rarely surpassed. It is a floral offering to the Kingdom of Valencia’s patron saint, Our Lady of the Forsaken. All the Fallas Committees take part in this event, decked out in their finest, to present their bouquets of flowers to the enormous image of the Virgin which stands in the centre of the plaza named after her, overlooked by her Basilica.
A parade of thousands upon thousands of “Falleras” and “Falleros” fills the city streets, wearing regional costumes and adding to the visual charm with the colours of the flowers. Each Committee brings its own music band and, in some cases, a spectacular basket with the most original and creative floral decorations. Because of their incredible numbers of participants, the Offering is held on two days (17th and 18th March) and, for many reasons, it has now become the Fallas week’s central event.
The Cremà marks the end of Fallas festival. It is probably the most popular event internationally and the one that gives the concept of “Fallas Fiesta” its full meaning: the monuments are exhibited in the street to be burnt. That is their fate and, at the same time, their grandeur. In the small hours between the 19th and 20th of March, enormous pyres burn around the whole city. The splendid monuments, which a few hours before stood proudly in the streets and squares, are reduced to ashes amidst the clamour of hundreds of people who attend the ritual every year.
Symbolically, the “Falleros” throw everything that is considered to be superfluous, harmful or simply unusable onto the bonfire and, by doing so, aim to make a new start and regenerate the spirit. This objective has always been the basis of this kind of pagan rite, since ancient times.
The real purpose of the “Cremà”, though, is simply to make a spectacular display, to keep the tradition and to be able to start out on a new Fallas Year, which always aspires to be better than the last.