Spanish Festivals: Las Fallas
Have you ever eaten a Valencia Orange? Not only is it a type of orange sold in the U.S. … it’s an actual place! This past weekend my train tickets took me to Valencia, Spain, a Mediterranean coastal city known for a few things: oranges, horchata, paella and Las Fallas.
Las Fallas is an annual celebration in March to celebrate the Día de San José, or the patron Saint of Valencia (Jesus’s dad, a carpenter). Each year, over 200 vallas are created for the event over the course of the year. These are giant wooden and cardboard structures of grand, cartoonish proportions erected in honor of the festival. The vallas are set up all around Valencia for four days for people to view and snap photos. They are stupendous; grand, vibrant, colorful, ironic and detailed. For the four days of viewing, there are kids running all over the city with lines of firecrackers they set off in the alley–scare ya ta bits! Everybody dons a checkered Las Fallas scarf and children have tiny, handmade petardos (firecrackers) pinned to their shirts. Fireworks are shot off midday in the main plaza and after midnight by the river. Everyone goes to see them. We attended three separate showings, and at the last we were literally stuck in the crowd, no chance of going anywhere due to all the people there to see the fireworks!
But the best part of Las Fallas happens on Wednesday (after we left Valencia, unfortunately). One valla is selected out of all to represent the festival that year. It is moved to the main plaza and the elected Queen of Las Fallas ignites a small rope that leads to the valla and thus ensues the cremá, or burning of the valla. In turn after, all the vallas are burned in the city. Can you believe it?? I found it astounding to see the work that went in to their creation, I can’t imagine how emotional it would be to watch them be ignited!
Another grand Spanish weekend (we got a taste of the Mediterranean Sea as well!) See you after this weekend’s excursion!
Courtney Cerniglia is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point majoring in business administration and Spanish.