Falles( Valencia Fallas )
The Fallas (Valencian: Falles; Spanish: Fallas) is a traditional celebration held annually in commemoration of Saint Joseph in the city of Valencia, Spain. The five main days celebrated are from 15 to 19 March, while the Mascletà, a pyrotechnic spectacle of firecracker detonation and fireworks display, takes place every day from 1 to 19 March. The term Fallas refers to both the celebration and the Falla monuments (Falla, singular; Fallas/Falles, plural) burnt during the celebration. A number of towns in the Valencian Community have similar celebrations inspired by the original Fallas de Valencia celebration. For example, the bonfires of Alicante or the Fiestas de la Magdalena in Castellón de la Plana. The Fallas (Falles in Valencian) festival was added to...Read more
The Fallas (Valencian: Falles; Spanish: Fallas) is a traditional celebration held annually in commemoration of Saint Joseph in the city of Valencia, Spain. The five main days celebrated are from 15 to 19 March, while the Mascletà, a pyrotechnic spectacle of firecracker detonation and fireworks display, takes place every day from 1 to 19 March. The term Fallas refers to both the celebration and the Falla monuments (Falla, singular; Fallas/Falles, plural) burnt during the celebration. A number of towns in the Valencian Community have similar celebrations inspired by the original Fallas de Valencia celebration. For example, the bonfires of Alicante or the Fiestas de la Magdalena in Castellón de la Plana. The Fallas (Falles in Valencian) festival was added to UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage of humanity list on 30 November 2016.
Each neighbourhood of the city has an organised group of people, the Casal faller, that works all year long holding fundraising parties and dinners, usually featuring the noted dish paella, a specialty of the region. Each casal faller produces a construction known as a falla which is eventually burned. A casal faller is also known as a comissió fallera and currently there are approximately 400 registered in Valencia.
There are different conjectures regarding the origin of the Fallas festival. One suggests that the Fallas started in the Middle Ages, when artisans disposed of the broken artefacts and pieces of wood they saved during the winter by burning them to celebrate the spring equinox. Valencian carpenters used planks of wood called parots to hang their candles on during the winter, as these were needed to provide light to work by. With the coming of the spring, they were no longer necessary, so they were burned. Over time, and with the intervention of the Church, the date of the burning of these parots was made to coincide with the celebration of the festival of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters.
This tradition continued to evolve. The parot was dressed with clothing so that it looked like a person; features identifiable with some well-known person from the neighbourhood were often added as well. To collect these materials, children went from house to house asking for una estoreta velleta (an old rug) to add to the parot. This became a popular song that the children sang as they gathered all sorts of old flammable furniture and utensils to burn in the bonfire with the parot. These parots were the first ninots. Over the years, people of the neighbourhoods began to organise the building of the falles, and thus the typically intricate constructions, including their various figures, were born.
Until the beginning of the 20th century, the falles were tall boxes with three or four wax dolls dressed in fabric clothing. This changed when the creators began to use cardboard. The fabrication of the falles continues to evolve in modern times, when the largest displays are made of polystyrene and soft cork easily molded with hot saws. These techniques have allowed the creation of falles over 30 metres high.
The origin of the pagan festival is similar to that of the Bonfires of Saint John celebrated in the Alicante region, in the sense that both came from the Latin custom of lighting fires to welcome spring. In València, this ancient tradition led to the burning of accumulated waste, particularly wood, at the end of winter on the feast day of Saint Joseph. Given the reputed humorous character of Valencians, it was natural that the people began to burn figurines depicting persons and events of the past year. The burning symbolised liberation from living in servitude to the memory of these events or else represented humorous and often critical commentary on them. The festival thus evolved a more satirical and ironic character, and the wooden castoffs gradually came to be assembled into progressively more elaborate 'monuments' that were designed and painted in advance.
In the early 20th century, and especially during the Spanish Civil War, the monuments became more anti-clerical in nature and were often highly critical of the local or national governments, which tried to ban the Falles many times, without success. Under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco the celebration lost much of its satirical nature because of government censorship, but the monuments were among the few fervent public expressions allowed then, and they could be made freely in València. During this period, many religious customs such as the offering of flowers to Mare de Déu dels Desamparats (Our Lady of the Forsaken) were taken up, which today are essential parts of the festival, even though they were unrelated to the original purpose of the celebration.
With the restoration of democracy and the end of government censorship, the critical falles reappeared, and obscene satirical ones with them. Despite thirty years of freedom of expression, the world view of the fallero can still be socially conservative, is often sexist and may involve some of the amoralism of Valencian politics. This has sometimes led to criticism by certain cultural critics, environmentalists, and progressives. Yet there are celebrants of all ideologies and factions, and they have different interpretations of the spirit of the celebration. Although recent initiatives such as the pilota championships, literary competitions and other events have broadened its cultural expression, the city still embraces such ancient traditions to express its own singular identity.Fallas suspensions
Throughout its history the Fallas have been suspended six times.
In 1886 the falleros refused to place the monuments in protest against the increase of the canon from 5 pesetas to 60 pesetas imposed in 1851 that penalized their placement on the street. The follow-up was not complete and there were two failures.
In 1896 a state of war was declared because of the Spanish American War, and the Fallas were annulled two days before its beginning.
In the years 1937, 1938 and 1939, the Fallas were suspended due to the Spanish Civil War. The suspension did not affect the Fallas of 1936 since they had already been held when the war started. The money destined for the Fallas was destined to the republican cause at the beginning of the war.
On 10 March 2020, the Valencian Generalitat, after a Ministry of Health report, decided to suspend and postpone the parties of Fallas and all the acts that comprise it as a result of the coronavirus epidemic as a preventive measure to stop the spread of the virus. The festival was cancelled in 2021 and returned in 2022.
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