Fallas: A week filled with churros, fire and pure excitement. Something I am going to try my hardest to explain, but I can’t promise that I will do it justice. Fallas is a festival in Valencia held every year that leads up to March 19th, which is the day of Saint Joseph, the carpenter saint and coincidentally the patron saint of Valencia. Valencia used to be a town filled with carpenters around the 15th century. After the winter season, many of the carpenters would throw their scraps into the streets and burn them to start fresh for the spring. Eventually, they started creating little structures out of the scraps and later it became a competition between the neighborhoods.
One of the best things about my experience of Fallas was being able to see things from a local’s point of view. For example, FSU is a sponsor for our neighborhood Falla house, which means we are allowed to partake in many of the activities that this house has and they even set up a wonderful paella making contest for us. We were given four huge paella pans and could decide the kind
of paella that would be made. A Valencian helped each group with the chopping of veggies, order of ingredients and how to correctly stir (because there is a correct way). Regardless of the technical difficulties, the veggie paella was definitely the fan favorite (secret ingredient: a hint of love and patience). The entire process took a few hours but the outcome was well worth it… making paella with the people who invented it! Although Eduardo Jimenez, if you are reading this, my parents still swear your paella is the best they have had.
For the rest of the week after this my day was more or less as follows:
- Wake up to the sound of old ladies eating and drinking
outside of our window.
- 1:00PM Get dressed
and run out the door to the Plaza de Ayuntamiento for the afternoon
fireworks that make your chest vibrate and your jaw drop.
- Find some churros,
chocolate, porras, or bunuelos.
- Check in on the Plaza de La Reina to see the Virgin and her skirt made entirely
by roses donated by every Fallera
in the city.
- Walk around and try and see every Falla structure that you can.
- 8:00PM light shows
in the Rusafa area every
- 12:00AM fireworks in the riverbed.
- Block parties! Music,
food and LOTS of dancing!
The last day, March 19th was the best, however. This is the pinnacle of the entire event. The streets are filled with Falleras and Falleros either walking in the crowd or in some form of parade. There is music everywhere and anxious excitement in the air. The first burning we saw was the Falla Infantil de Falla Serrans (our Falla house). It was a small structure and still a crowd bunched up as close as we were allowed and firemen held their hoses tight as they watched the Fallera Infantil light the firework that led to everything bursting to flames. The second burning was the structure in front of the Central Market and although a bigger man squished me into a trashcan, though I had the last laugh when he couldn’t handle the heat and I found myself in the front row. The final burning was the town hall Falla where fireworks were set off and the entire city cheered as the event came to a close.
This festival may seem strange and the concept of burning a year’s work may seem extreme, but I think it is beautiful. All that is bad, physically or emotionally goes into the fire and everything starts new the next day (after a good nap).
Article by Chloe Craig