Friday, 15 March 2013

Las fallas, Valencia, Spain 11 - 20 março~march


pics via pinterest

Grande festa de Valencia com fogo por todo lado!
~
In the spring, as the days became longer, the lamps were not needed and were ceremoniously burnt at the workshop door. To this small fire the craftsmen added off-cuts, wood shavings and leftovers from around the neighbourhood. The old lamp was placed in a vertical position in the centre, decorated with old rags and a hat, giving it a human form - the Ninot / Falla


On the 1st of March, the first of the mascletas (an explosion of firecrackers) in the square in front of the City Hall announces the start of the festival period, although the most important events begin on the 16th, by which time the city has been decorated with over 700 symbols and figures. Throughout the day, mass gatherings take place including the despertas (a firecracker wake-up call to the neighbourhood) and magnificent firework displays.

The biggest and most spectacular event is the Ofrenda de Flores a la Virgen de los Desamparados (a floral offering to our Lady of the Forsaken): On the 17th and 18th of March, from 4pm until nightfall, there is an enormous multi-coloured parade; with the members of the Fallas wearing their marvellous, intricately decorated, traditional costumes and carrying bunches of flowers as an offering to their Patron Saint. 

At midnight on the 19th, the dramatic closing act takes place. A massive bonfire is built and the ninots, so carefully prepared in the previous months are set ablaze and destroyed: all except one, saved by the votes of the falleros, and destined to be preserved forever in the Fallero Museum.

The evolution of the festival as we know it today began in the second half of the 19th century. The fallas and ninots are ephemeral, ornamental and satirical symbols placed in the streets of the city as a humorous social or political comment. They may be human, animal or vegetable in form, portraying a critique of a local, national or international incident, personality or character. There is great irony involved and the ceremonial burning is an act of purification that takes place at midnight on el Día de San Jose (St Joseph's day).


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