Sunday, May 17, 2015

Fallas 2015

Fallas is, as I have previously mentioned, a festival celebrated only in Valencia. It is in honor of Saint Joseph. Each neighborhood spends all year fundraising and creating a falla sculpture so there are hundreds in the city. They range in size (the biggest being stories tall) and they are made of paper mache, cardboard, wood, textiles etc. Each one shows satirical social commentary on something that they believe to be wrong, corrupt, or unnecessary with the world today. The fallas are built with gas running through them so that at the end of the week they light on fire and are burnt to the ground during La Cremà. This symbolizes "out with the old, in with the new" and in many senses is Valencia’s New Year. Everyone works really hard for an entire year and in one night they have a great purge.
So that’s the symbolism. Otherwise, they use this week as a huge celebration. All day and all night there are fireworks and firecrackers, light shows, concerts, parties, paella, food, parades, and dancing. The men, women, and children wear traditional fallero costumes and there is an annual “Miss Fallas” essentially who opens the celebration and is the face of Fallas. In one of the main plazas they erect the frame to a large Virgen falla and each neighborhood in their beautiful garb brings her flower offerings which they use to decorate the frame until it is fully filled in and surrounded by beautiful blooms. 
I had the great pleasure of experiencing it all firsthand but also getting to share it with a very special visitor from the US. It is so difficult to explain what Fallas is let alone it’s cultural impact so here are some pictures to try and do it justice.
Loading in a falla
A piece of a fallas beautifully painted with the Valencian flag
Children's falla

Me with my favorite falla

Dancing falleras
Parade over the flower bridge

Offering parade

Decorating the frame of the Virgen falla
The completed virgen falla
Plaza de la Virgen
The main fallera lighting the falla at La Cremà

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