A couple weeks ago, an incredible event happened in Valencia, Spain called Fallas. Honestly, I could write an entire book about this event, but nothing I could say could measure up to what it would be like if you were actually here experiencing it for yourself. Nevertheless, I will attempt to explain to you the massive event that is Fallas. To be honest, this blog post is the tip of the iceberg when it comes the chaos that is Fallas, which is why I will be splitting the experience up into a few posts.
Anyway, let’s dive in!
Disclaimer: I am by no means a “Fallas Expert” or a “Spanish Culture Expert.” I am simply stating culture as to how I have understood it and what I have experienced.
What is Fallas? (Mrs. C Version)
The name of the festival is the plural of the word falla, which refers to both the festival and the statues or “monuments” that are created.
The city of Valencia is made up of little neighborhoods, which is very similar to large cities in the United States. (To be honest this aspect always makes me think of the Hunger Games and their districts.) To give you a better idea, I read that in Valencia there are about 750 neighborhoods. Now, I am not sure how accurate that is, but take it or leave it. Anyway, each neighborhood has a group of people called the Casal Faller that works almost as a Fallas council. Basically, they work all year long to fundraise money to produce a statue that is called a falla and to help pick the team to build it.
Many neighborhoods create two fallas. The first one being the main fallas that can be up to 5 stories tall and the second being a falla infantil, which is a smaller one. Artists, painters and sculptors from each of these neighborhoods spend months on crafting their fallas with paper, wood and foam. It truly is amazing what these artists come up with. Many fallas are animated with cartoon figures and bright colors, while others attempt to add some reality.
Despite their beauty and creativity, the weird and strange aspect is that all of these fallas are burned down at the end of the week. Yeah. Real fire. In the streets. Next to buildings. How is this not a fire hazard?!
La Créma, the name for the burning, usually starts at 10:00pm with burning all of the falla infantil first. After all of the little ones have been set on fire they start burning the large ones, eventually ending with the falla in Plaça de l’Ajuntament. Many people stand and wait for hours to get a front row seat of the falla they want to see burn to the ground. (Morbid, I know.) However, a word to the wise: don’t stand too close because with every falla burning there are fireworks and oh yeah, a GIANT fire happening very close to you. I know you would probably think of that, but it is amazing how much heat comes off. We were pretty far back from the few we saw and we still felt the heat on our faces.
All in all, Fallas is an incredible tradition that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.
Adventure Lesson Learned: The human mind can create so much beauty if you allow it the time to do so.
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