Fiestas – colorful and lush | The joyful soul of Spain
Spain and its fiestas are legendary, and at any time of year there are festivities somewhere large and small, national and regional. From Carnival in Cadiz to the winter fiestas in honor of St. Anthony and St. Agatha, there are colorful, joyful, contemplative and exhilarating celebrations throughout the country at any time of year. In the Valencia region and on the Costa Blanca, these include the Fallas in March, the Hogueras in June and the whimsical tomato festival in Buñol, which attracts tourists rather than locals.
„Las Fallas“ – the great spring festival in Valencia
You can‘t get more exuberant than this to welcome spring! Every year between March 1 and 19, Valencia celebrates the Fallas, a colorful, riotous festival whose origins date back to the 18th century. Stories tell of carpenters, thanks to the approach of spring, burning the now redundant wooden racks in which they had placed their oil lamps and candles over the winter. The custom developed into a fixed date, March 19, the day of St. Joseph. Joseph had been a carpenter himself, had raised Jesus as his son, and had always been considered the patron saint of carpenters in Spain. Over the years, not only the wooden frames were burned, furniture and „discarded“ items were added, as well as doll-like figures. The dolls evolved into small and larger works of art, entire groups of figures were designed, and the ninots and fallas that gave the festival its name were created. And early on, the figures took on satirical and ironic overtones, because they were used to reflect on the history of the times.
Today, artists and craftsmen work on the large ninots and fallas made of papier-mâché or wood, sometimes all year round, and the annual competition for the most beautiful ninot spurs on additional ambition. More than 150,000 dedicated citizens of Valencia, who come together in countless Fallas associations, are committed to the great festival, which was elevated to UNESCO‘s Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2016.
When the Fallas begin on March 1, thousands upon thousands of locals and tourists flock to Valencia to celebrate, admire the fireworks at night, experience the deafening noise and smoke of the firecracker works by day! and look forward to the end. Because on March 17 and 18 there are first the famous flower parades, „Ofrena de Flors“ in honor of the patron saint of the city, the Holy Virgin of the Defenceless. 100,000 people participate in the parades in historical and traditional costumes, 50 tons of flowers are brought to Valencia from all over Spain and with endless bouquets of flowers the wooden frame of the patroness is transformed into a gorgeous floral dress.
On March 19, the day of St. Joseph, the highlight of the Fallas takes place in the evening. Everywhere in the squares the fallas are burned in the „crema“ except for a single figure, which is later exhibited in the Fallas Museum. And with this ends a lively festival, which is firmly rooted in the hearts of the people and with its unique mixture of art, culture, satire and tradition is one of the highlights in Valencia and the surrounding area. After that, spring can come and life can resume its course!
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