The essence of Las Fallas
Las Fallas basically starts on the 1st of March with the first mascleta, a magnificent aprox 10 minutes explosive display of coordinated firecrackers and fireworks. Mascletas are held at 2pm in every neighborhood and repeated daily throughout the festival period, every day a different tune being played.
The most important of mascletas is the one in front of the Town Hall where the crowds gather hours in advance to get a privileged spot for the noisy show and where the pyrotechnicians compete for the honor of setting the biggest mascleta of them all on the last day of Las Fallas, the 19th of March.
|Sacks of gunpowder ready to explode in front of the Town Hall /td>|
Food at Las Fallas
|Buñuelos and churros|
Every falla is made out of ninots (meaning puppets or dolls) and all are going to be burned except two (one from a kid’s falla and one from a big falla) that are saved and displayed in the Fallero Museum from Valencia, next to the City of Arts and Sciences.
|“The Kiss Between Earth And Sea” a 27 meters falla from 2010|
To make sense of what I said before about burning the work of a hole year… “The Kiss Between Earth And Sea” was 27 meters high, and was an impressive falla from 2010. It actually got the 2nd prize. It also cost about 600.000EUR.
But the most expensive falla ever, that actually got in the Guinness Book, cost about 900.000EUR and was the winner of 2009. So yeah, you can say these are money thrown out the window or more specifically, burned. Not everybody has the value to do that, I have to admit.
|One of the winning fallas of 2011|
There are many theories about the beginnings of Las Fallas, but the one I like best is this: it all started with the spring cleaning. The folks of Valencia used to mount in front of their houses piles of garbage gathered during the winter and then burn them. Slowly the piles of garbage started to grasp meaning and they became satirical and humorous social or political comments. They grew and the tourists started to come and the garbage piles became the amazing, colorful, hundreds of euros worth ephemeral monuments we can admire now every March.
Falleras, falleros and the traditional costumes
Another stunning sight during Las Fallas are the beautiful traditional Valencian dresses the women exhibit during these days. But not only the women get all dressed up. The men and children do too. They are part of the Casal fallers and are called falleros. And during the festivities, there are thousands of people dressed in such costumes walking the streets of Valencia.
|Family of falleros in front of the falla they sponsored|
Fallera Mayor – the Queen of Las Fallas
Being part of the event is a big deal. Not only that there are events organized all year round where they stand out, but during Las Fallas festival one gets lots of exposure. Every group is represented by a fallera, but the most important of them all is Fallera Mayor, the Queen of Las Fallas, a young woman chosen for her social skills and looks, to represent the community and the city of Valencia throughout the year.
The title of Fallera Mayor is an extremely prestigious one in Valencia and the competition is fierce and expensive. Fallera Mayor is always accompanied during the social events she attends by her court of honor made of 12 other lucky women. There is also a young girl, Fallera Mayor Infantil, who represents the children.
Beautiful as these traditional costumes look, they are also very expensive. The whole outfit (dress with golden thread, stockings, shoes, golden comb, jewelry, etc) can cost more than 20.000EUR. One visit to the hairdresser for the traditional hairstyle is about 400EUR.
Being a fallera is the dream of any Valencian girl. It’s like being a local princess. Some of them start saving money for such a dress from a young age and with a bit of luck, eventually they see their dream come true.
The offerings to the Virgin Mary
Another important social event that takes place during Las Fallas is the offering to the Virgin. For two days in a row thousands of falleras and falleros head to the Plaza de la Virgen, just behind the cathedral, carrying flowers (especially carnations) from which the dress of the 14 meters high statue of Virgin Mary is made.
|Virgin Mary statue made out of flowers|
The light displays
Because Las Fallas is a festival of light and fire, the street light contests could not miss. Walking on such a fine decorated street during the night is like stepping into a fabulous enchanted castle. Being amazed is 100% guaranteed.
|Street participating in a street lights contest|
La Crema – burning the fallas
|Falla burning down to ashes – hot, hot, hot, only the firemen could get close to it|