Guest Author - Rachel L Webb
Bonfire Night in Spain
Las Fallas when Valencia is on Fire
The exploding fireworks light up the night sky and everything underneath every March in Valencia. On 15th March explosions occur at regular intervals beginning with the traditional quema which means burning – which starts several days of explosive fun in this Eastern Spanish coastal town.
Huge papier mache dolls are erected in the plazas and streets of Valencia they are then set alight on 19th March, Saint Joseph’s day. This hot fiesta was supposedly started to celebrate the coming of spring and lighter nights - the crafts guild workers burnt their several armed lanterns made up with trunks and boards to celebrate the lighter nights.
Old clothes and furniture used to be thrown into the bonfire too, later dolls representing hated rulers and politicians were made and burnt, and still today many of the figures may not be of hatred but they can be recognizable personages!
The earliest writings about the Fallas dates from 1595, when it was a celebration for the commoner and despised by the puritans and the more well-to-do, who undoubtedly became a recreated doll or two!
Every year the falla competition is hot, noisy and dangerous but attracts a huge crowd over the five festive days. Pyrotechnics build firework castles, which serve to make as much noise as possible for ten minutes.
Music, bands and all-night partying sees in the start of spring with an almighty bang. Hundreds of musicians and thousands of people play sardines in the crowded town. The work for the fallas starts on the 20th March each year, taking a whole year of creativity to produce the mammoth creations made from clay, molded alabaster and cardboard, that are burnt on the final night of activity the Nit del Foc.
Many other shows including bullfights and flamenco can be found around the Valencian streets in the mad days of this fiesta, which is only a week after the fiesta of the Moors and Christians of whom you may spot some parading around the town still in fancy dress.
Nowhere knows how to party better than the Spanish but when a whole town and more parties there is nothing else for it but to join in yourself.
The mascletaes, a pyrotechnic specialty of Valencia starts around 2pm form 16 to 19th and the visitors are recommended to arrive at 1.30 and the uninitiated to stand well back. When the display starts it is impossible to retreat – as you might very well wish to – through the crowd of thousands.